Little Bit ND 17 – we wait to see what happens next

27 June 2022

There is always a lot of disinformation when an event occurs and I am guilty for spreading some today. My sincerest apologies! Little Bit ND17 fell off the Bald Eagle nest in St Patrick’s County Park in South Bend Indiana at 15:45:12. Whether it was an accident or precipitated by Little Bit wanting to move after 16 (who returned to the nest today) pecked its neck is not known – and never will be.

Little Bit was found near the base of the tree. Park staff state that 17 is standing and appears alert. Earlier reports of him eating the fish appear to be false. Lindsay Grossman said she looked for that fish because she was going to give it to him but could not find it. A wild life rehabber in Elkhart, Indiana who works with raptors has been notified. The DNR staff were not present, just park staff. Park staff said that they would check Little Bit 17 in about an hour giving him some space.

It is about a 35 minute drive from the rehabbers in Elkhart to St. Patrick’s Park.

According to a chatter the FB page for the nest states, “Rehabber and DNR have been contacted but cannot say at this time what if anything that will happen going forward. “

The wildlife rehabber in Elkhart has COVID. There is another Raptor specialist in Valpo but they are off today. Valpo is a little further away but the park staff say that should become an option tomorrow.

Send all good wishes to Little Bit 17. He is a fighter – always has been! Do you remember when? It is April 24. There is Little Bit 17 right up in front.

At 10:03 this morning.

So what is Little Bit’s challenge if he is on the ground? Lindsay Grossman says, “Yes, coyote is the biggest concern at this time. He does have some weapons at his disposal to fight back with though….” I have seen eaglets this age attacked – roughly 12 weeks – and they did not use their talons to fight. They were surprised and became dinner. Little Bit 17 is also quite small. No one wants him to become dinner.

I am a great believer in intervention when it is warranted and when it can be done with a reasonable hope for success. That would seem to be the state we are in with Little Bit 17. It is unclear whether or not he can fly – he could be bruised and sore, he could have a small fracture in a shoulder—— we do not know and won’t until he is in the care of a wildlife rehabilitation facility. My hope is that either Little Bit is taken into care before dark or that people are there with him (at a safe distance for all) so that he is protected over night. Little Bit is certainly loved.

I do wish someone would bring Little Bit a fish. He has not eaten today. Will the parents? We will find out.

In one incident with a grounded forced fledged Osprey, the bird was discovered by someone that knew a little bit about raptors. The Osprey was placed on his arm and encouraged to fly off. After awhile and much up and down motion of the arm, the bird took off. It is possible that if picked up Little Bit 17 would, indeed, fly. Still, there is the issue of the nest that is not capable of having 3 eaglets on it and sometimes 3 eaglets and a parent. It is a very tricky situation.

Someone asked if Little Bit can catch his own meal? Fledgling eagles learn how to fly. The parents provide them with food on the nest or at an off nest location until their flying is strong. It is then that they teach them how to hunt. The parents provide for them. A good example is the Southwest Florida nest where M16 and Harriet provide prey on the nest and gradually, when the fledglings flying is better, the fledglings begin to get their own prey often in the pond adjacent to the nest. This is usually close to when they leave to find their own territory.

These parents are good at keeping their fledglings fed and enticing them with food to return to the nest. That is how we got in this pickle. It is entirely possible that the parents will get prey and entice Little Bit to fly to another spot. He needs to get off the ground. We wait.

Pictures posted of Little Bit 17 in the brush by Lindsay Grossman on Notre Dame Eagles FB page. Thank you, Lindsay! So nice to see you Little Bit. You are quite beautiful or should we say handsome?

He is a lovely bird.

The one good thing for Little Bit is that the people at St Patrick’s County Park love their eagles and they will do everything that they possibly can to keep Little Bit 17 safe and sound!

Our little sweetheart. Stay safe Little 17!

Thank you for bearing with me today. This nest has been a focus for a long, long time – almost from the moment Little Bit hatched. He is so loved and so many people are wishing hard for his success. Certainly of all the eaglets I have watched he certainly deserves a life. Take care everyone. I hope to have updates tomorrow morning.

Thanks again to ‘H’ for alerting me to the fall the second it happened, to Lindsay Grossman for allowing us to post the images of 17 and to the ND-LEED streaming and chat.

Little Bit ND17 located!

UPDATE: Some information contained in my original blog was not accurate and I want to correct it. Little Bit 17 was located by park staff at the base of the tree. He is standing, eating the catfish, and appears alert. DNR staff have been notified. There is a wildlife rehabber at Elkhart, Indiana that specializes in raptors. They might come out this evening or tomorrow morning. Park Staff are giving Little Bit 17 some room to see what will happen next.

That is the latest accurate information.

27 June 2022

Little Bit 17 fell off the ND-LEEF a short while ago. The nest was too crowded and he went over backwards. There was nothing for him to cling to and he had no where to go. No one knows how hard he fell. It appears he never opened his wings. It would have been a quick frightening fall.

Little Bit 17 has been located. He is on the ground below the 60 ‘ high nest and is eating the catfish that fell off the nest this morning. Thank you to Lindsay Grossman for reporting to the chat.

DNR staff are on location. They have 17 and are assessing him for any injuries. Perhaps, because of the situation with the tree, they will take 17 to a wildlife rehabilitation centre where he will get his flying down and learn how to hunt. Returning him to the deteriorating nest for this just to happen again does not seem reasonable at all. They can’t leave him on the ground so rehab seems the best place. Why not leave him on the ground? Predators. He will get regularly fed and they can watch to make sure he has no internal injuries while treating any that might not be noticeable from just a physical look or check.

Little Bit 17 is breathing and he is alert. He is standing upright. That is good news.

Any further news will be reported either this evening or tomorrow morning – in my next blog. Send positive wishes to Little Bit 17. He has worked so hard to live – let us hope that he gets to spend some time in rehab – eating, learning to fly and hunt!

Photo from 11:00:25 27 June 2022.

Update on the Captiva Osprey Nest

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Some of the information in this posting might be a repeat for some of you. There might be something else that you learn, too!

It is often difficult to process deaths on nests. This is so true for now when we turn to the birds and other wildlife as a place of solace. Sadly, we have no control over what happens on the nests but, we can certainly mourn with the family when there are issues. Wildlife face repeated challenges day in and day out. While we cannot always make their lives better, it is up to each of us to try in any small or large way that we can.

Early this morning, around 08:39ish, the oldest osplet, Big, on the Captiva Osprey nest in Florida died. There was nothing leading up to the death that would have alerted to anyone watching the streaming cam that there was anything at all wrong with any of the chicks never mind one of them dying at the feet of its Mum while she fed the others breakfast. There were no visible tremors of any sort, no choking, nothing. The only thing that was noticed was that Big was less aggressive towards the other two chicks at meal time yesterday. There could be any number of reasons for Big to stop beaking its younger siblings. Big might have felt more food secure after Andy brought in 11 fish the day prior. Often raptors who are getting ready to pass a pellet are not that much interested in food. We could speculate forever but we will never know the answer to that question. All we know is that an apparently healthy osplet, 27 days old, died.

The owner of the property, Lori Covert, immediately sought permission from state and federal authorities to have a necropsy done on the chick to find out the cause. CROW, one of the best wildlife rehab clinics in the US, was also alerted. Permissions were quickly granted and CROW came quickly to remove the body of the chick. That took place at 15:21.

Lena immediately began alerting as she flew over the water and the property making circles around the nest. She returned immediately once the technician and the ladder were no longer present.

Both Middle and Little (Little and Mini on chat) went flat. You could tell they were afraid by their eyes but they did not move. Instead they stayed pancaked panting from the heat. Lena is hot too. It is that time of year in Florida.

Because CROW does not have the equipment to do complicated toxicology screening, Big’s body was sent to UGA College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia.

Some causes of death such as a pellet that could not be passed or a fish hook can be established with a physical exam. Those results are pretty immediate. My understanding is that it will be a few days, perhaps the end of the week, until the results from the tests are known. They will be posted on the Captiva Osprey streaming cam site.

Some of my readers were concerned because one of the chicks appeared to be choking early this morning and they thought it was the one who died. It was Little (or Mini) that was casting the pellet at the time.

There was a Q & A session with Window on Wildlife staffer Connor this afternoon. It has been posted on YouTube so that you can watch it. Connor took questions off the chat so you might find some of this very interesting and educational.

After everyone has left the area, Andy arrives with a fish for Lena and the two surviving osplets at 15:38. If you look at the eyes of Andy and Lena they are very alert and probably none too happy with the events of the last few minutes.

Lena feeds the two remaining chicks, Middle and Little.

They will both be full. There was nothing wrong with their appetites.

Middle and Little (or Little and Mini) are hot but they are both eating well and were anxious for the arrival of a fish. That fish will provide them not only with nourishment but also their water or, hydration! There is no reason to believe from looking at the two of them or the adults that there is anything ‘wrong’ at this nest. They were hot and did sleep but that is normal on a day with high temperatures and being in the hot sun. Ospreys really like their nests to be out in the open so that they can see predators coming from 360 degrees.

To answer the question of a reader: Yes, of course, Andy and Lena and the two remaining chicks know that Big is no longer with them. The entire atmosphere of the nest has changed. They understand that he has died. They have not had any experience with adults taking a deceased chick off their nest so it is understandable that Andy and Lena have no knowledge of ladders and technicians. There is really no time for mourning. The couple have been battling predators and the two other chicks require care. The parents cannot simply take a day or two ‘off’. Andy did bring in Spanish Moss to cover Big. You might recall that happening on other nests. I believe (but will happily be corrected) that Clive and/or Connie covered up the body of one or both of the chicks, Peace and Hope, that died on the Captiva Bald Eagle nest from secondary rodenticide poisoning last breeding season. I have seen it done at other nests and on others, nothing.

Lori Covert loves the birds that live on her land on Captiva. If you get a chance and you are on chat, please send her, the chat moderators, and everyone associated with the Captiva Ospreys your condolences. They really would appreciate it.

Before I close, I want to mention something and that is ‘donations’. Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinics exist solely on donations. They receive no federal or state funding. Their benefactors range from the person who can afford to donate $5 a year to those who are able to give them more. CROW is one of the best wildlife rehab clinics. If you feel so inclined, they would appreciate any size of donation. Here is the link to their website:

http://www.crowclinic.org/

Please send your most positive energy to this wonderful Osprey nest in Florida. Andy, Lena, and the two surviving chicks need all the good wishes they can get. I so hope to sit and have some tea Wednesday afternoon watching Middle and Little (Little and Mini) ferociously eating fish and hearing Lena call Andy for yet another fish.

Thank you so much for joining me today. There is lots of news in Bird World. Take care!

Thank you to the Captiva Ospreys and Window on Wildlife for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.

Friday in Bird World

The Lost Words is a book by Robert MacFarlane, Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Its focus is on the words that the editors of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary removed. Its 128 pages, 27.9 x 37.6 cm in size, are gorgeously illustrated with the watercolours of Jackie Morris, writer and illustrator, who lives in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The missing words that concerned MacFarlane are the following: acorn, Adder, Bluebell, Bramble, Conker, dandelion, fern, heather, heron, Ivy, Kingfisher, Lark, Magpie, Newt, Otter, Raven, Starling, Weasel, Willow, and Wren. At a time when our focus as adults should be to strive to install the wonder of the natural world and our responsibility to it in the children, why, then, would anyone choose to remove words that are directly connected with our environment.

I mentioned this book awhile ago. I have returned to it many times always admiring the illustrations, such as the images of the Ravens on the forest floor amongst the fallen conkers. Conkers are the fruit of the Horse Chestnut Tree, Aesculus hippocastanum. Horse Chestnut trees can grow quite large. Ironically, the conkers are poisonous to horses and I believe, all other animals. The type of poison is called esculin.

That illustration conjured up a beautiful memory of the time my family spent in England. Up on the gorse was a Conker Tree. We had never seen conkers – it was something wonderful and new. The children played a game with them. First you had to drill a hole and run a cord through the conker and secure it with a nice big knot at the bottom. The children would then ‘conk’ their conkers trying to see whose would break first! It was free entertainment and kept them busy for hours.

“Conkers on a string” by MrsEds is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Creative Commons had this historical picture of two young lads trying to break the others’ conker.

“Its conker time” by theirhistory 

The rolling hills with their public paths were marvellous places for the children and the adults to take walks and breathe in the air. We were fortunate to have a ‘gorse’ within 50 or 60 feet from where we lived. It was full of butterflies and birds and the most delicious blackberries. It was a time when children played outside with their mates. No one set in front of the telly or spent hours looking at screens. Bikes were ridden and trees were climbed. In the three years we lived in Lincolnshire, it snowed once. There was about 4 cm on the ground – just enough. Still, everything stopped. Children stayed home from school and anything and everything that could be used as a sled was used to slide down the hills of the gorse. I wonder what all those children would think about the snow in my garden today?

The nice thing about snow is that it can cause people to slow down. To enjoy a cup of hot tea and a book. To stop running around worrying about things that are not always that important, to pause long enough to take in the moments.

It seems like it is rather quiet in Bird World but, is it really? Eaglets are growing bigger by the day all the while their plumage is changing. Thankfully, none are ready to fledge. E19 and E20 spend time flapping their wings as does the Osceola eaglet. Other eagles are incubating eggs. It is not time for Osprey season unless they are in Florida. Diane is incubating 3 eggs at Achieva in St Petersburg while Lena, laying hers a month early at Captiva, will be on hatch watch this weekend. Annie and Grinnell are only dreaming of eyases. Today Grinnell had to tell a 2 year old juvenile female to get off the ledge of The Campanile. Cal Falcons posted a video of that encounter.

Ervie continues to fish call off the barge at Port Lincoln. We can hear him but we cannot see him.

Kincaid is 29 days old today. He is starting to walk. It is so cute to see those first ‘baby steps’. Louis brought in what looks like an egret (or a part of an egret). When it looked like Louis might want to eat some of it, Anna promptly arrived at the nest. To Anna, prey brought to the nest belongs to her and Kincaid, not Louis who brought it! Anna is pretty strict in that regard. Not all female Bald Eagles behave that way. Anna proceeded to try and remove one long leg while Kincaid, with an already large crop, waited patiently.

Kincaid is mimicking what Anna is doing as he grabs the other leg and pulls on it. So cute. Kincaid also keeps himself busy moving around nesting material. These little eaglets learn from watching the adults.

Kincaid is already making attempts at self-feeding.

Kincaid is, of course, not the only one trying out eating by itself. I posted an image of R2 at the WRDC nest a week ago eating a fish. The eaglets of Harriet and M15 are also attempting eating on their own. E20 has become a bit of a pro. It seems like all of the eaglets grew up faster than they have ever done previously. Does it seem that way to you?

At the White-tailed Eagle nest of Milda and her new mate near Durbe, Latvia, the snow has melted. Milda will be laying her eggs about the same time as Big Red in Ithaca, New York – the third week of March – if all goes to plan.

There is more snow forecast for Big Red’s territory. The temperature in Ithaca is 1 C.

What I like about the image below is that you can see the nest cup area that Big Red and Arthur have been working on. In Milda’s nest sprigs of pine with their cones line the area of the egg cup. It is so fascinating watching the couples prepare for the upcoming breeding season. It is so intriguing. I would love to ‘speak hawk’ and sit by Big Red and Arthur when they discuss what needs to be done!

At least five eagles poisoned, one dead, four in serious condition in Manchester Maryland. Was this lead poisoning? or was this something else more sinister to impact all of the birds at the same time? There is an investigation underway.

Here is a short informative video of why eagles eat carrion in the winter.

https://fb.watch/b6jnYJByKa/

There is good news coming out of Australia about WBSE 27. You might remember that twice, after fledging, 27 was taken into care. 27 was not taught by the parents to take care of itself. Once 27 fledged, it was taunted and chased by the Pied Currawong. Both times 27 was extremely dehydrated. The last time the Currawong had gathered and had pecked 27s head. When 27 was taken into care the last time, I hoped that rehabilitation would include flight training as well as training for getting prey. This takes longer than a two week stay in a clinic. Some wildlife rehabbers keep birds for 2 years to make certain they are capable of caring for themselves with confidence. It looks like 27 is getting that great training. The news is excellent!

Isn’t she lovely? And – yes – 27 is a she!

I wish that all of the sea eagles that fledge from the WBSE nest in the Sydney Olympic Park would not be harangued by the Pied Currawong. They chase them out of the forest. They never learn to fly or to catch prey. How many of them survive, if any, unless they wind up in care?

The camera is now working again at Port Lincoln. Ervie was on the nest and, at various times, in the shed with Dad. Sometimes he was in the shed alone. I cannot tell you if he had a fish but there was definitely a lot of fish calling.

Checking in on Jack and Diane at the Achieva Credit Union Osprey nest and Jack is busy delivering fish and helping incubate the eggs.

If you are into garden animals and song birds, with a few surprises, you might want to check out Wildlife Kate. She has several wildlife cams and is featured on Springwatch in the UK. Have a look. You might find something really interesting like Yew Pond, or the Kestrel Box, or the Woodland Pond.

This is Woodland Pond. The cameras are live with no rewind. Enjoy.

https://www.wildlifekate.co.uk/

I haven’t posted anything about the eaglet at Berry College for a few days. Thermal down is coming in nicely. Pa Berry did a great job feeding the little one this morning. B15 is still walking around on its tarsus (not yet with its feet) and doing a lot of preening. B15 is doing great. Missy and Pa Berry are doing a great job raising this baby.

B15 is a sweet little eaglet. You can see how its plumage is beginning to change.

I will leave you with a gorgeous image of Jackie incubating her eggs at Big Bear Bald Eagle nest in California. Fingers crossed for a great season for her and Shadow!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Take care. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Friends of Big Bear, Achieva Credit Union, Wildlife Kate, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Berry College, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, KNF, Latvian Fund for Nature, and Sea Eagle Cam FB Page.

Wednesday in Bird World

Oh, gosh, golly. Just when you think the day is going to be quiet, Missy at the Berry College Bald Eagle Nest in Mt Berry, Georgia, has a pip. The announcement of the pip was posted on FB this morning.

I just took this image a few minutes ago. The chick is making good progress! That is not a video. That arrow just shows up when you try to take a screen shot on their camera.

Speaking of cameras, Berry College has three – an approach one, one above the nest, and one closer to the nest. If you want to see thee action on hatch, I think the camera closer to the nest is the best. Their cameras are not on YouTube.

https://www.berry.edu/eaglecam/nest2

What spells Bald Eagle Fluff Ball better than cute? Be prepared to melt. Anna and Louis’s 15-hour-old chick is adorable.

Oh, the fluff balls grow too quick and get pin feathers in a blink. Soak them in when they are like this. So precious.

Bald Eagle parents work on instinct. There isn’t a manual on eagle parenting tucked under the nest. This is only Anna’s second chick. Last year I almost had a sore throat yelling at Anna to get closer to Kisatchie to feed him and for Kisatchie to turn around, face Mum (or Dad, Louis feeds his babies), and open that beak wide. Anna and this little one are struggling too. The little one is ready to eat and opens its beak wide and tries the grass in the nest! It has its back to Anna who is trying to feed it. She gets closer and the little one takes its first bite. This will only improve as Anna remembers and the little one figures out its part in the feeding-eating process.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinics work on donations and the sweat, tears, and love of volunteers. Our local clinic, Wildlife Haven, put out a call for donations to help a Snowy Owl in December. Today they were joyful in sending out a short video on its release. So happy to have been a small part of this success story!

There is currently no pip at the Captiva Bald Eagle nest. Waiting for Friday!

There is also no Daisy the Duck on the Sea Eagles nest in Sydney and that is a good thing!

Down at the Port Lincoln Osprey barge, Ervie is on the nest crying for a fish delivery. Twice now he has flown off the nest as if he saw an adult with a fish. He returned quickly the first time. Let’s see if he comes back with a fish the second time. No, empty taloned!

In Durbe, Milda and Mr L have returned to the nest to move around some sticks. There is still lots of snow in Latvia, just like Manitoba! I am really looking forward to Milda laying eggs and having a successful fledge of chick or chicks this spring. That would be so wonderful. Losing her long term mate, Raimis, last spring just sparked more and more sadness.

Just like Milda and Mr L, Annie and Grinnell are hanging out on The Campanile. Their scrape box is ready and waiting for those precious eggs in a couple of months. Cal Falcons posted this on their Twitter site today. So happy it will be Annie and Grinnell. The interloper has not been seen for a month! Yeah!!!!!!!

Annie is still there several hours later. Can you see her by the camera, perched on the pipe?

For other baby eaglets, it looks like it is fish dinners in Miami-Dade County and over in Fort Myers. R2 and R3 really seem to enjoy the fresh fish that Dad brings in. There have been several other varieties of prey items including a parrot and a coot. Did you know that Bald Eagles fish in both fresh and salt water?

E19 and E20 are also having fish. It is so hard to tell them apart. There is a white line under the cere of one of them but E20 does not seem to be that much different in size from its older sibling, E20. It is difficult to tell who is who sometimes. I ‘think’ it is E19 at the bottom of the screen and E20 in the middle.

Oh, tomorrow, the chick at Berry College will have fully hatched, the little one at the KNF nest will be stronger with its eyes more focused, and then there should be a pip coming at Captiva. Goodness.

There has been more snow on and off all day on the Canadian Prairies. There were 57 European Starlings in the Lilac Bushes and back trees this morning. They are still here. The feeders were filled twice. It is now 16:08 and it will not be long til every bird goes off to roost. It is normally dark here by 16:45. It is now 16:25 and all the birds are gone. It is absolutely still in the garden as new snow falls.

Thank you for joining me today. Please take care. See you soon.

A big thank you to the following for their streaming cams, Twitter, or FB pages where I took my screen captures: KNF Bald Eagle Nest, Port Lincoln Osprey Project, Berry College Eagles, Cal Falcons, Sea Eagles@Birdlife Australia Discovery Centre Sydney Olympic Park, WRDC Bald Eagle Nest, SWFlorida and D Pritchett Bald Eagle Nest, Wildlife Haven, Bald Eagles Live Nest Cam News, and the Latvian Fund for Nature.

Condor 1030 Iniko – the miracle – set to be released

With the uncertainty and sadness surrounding little Yurruga and our deepest condolences to Cilla Kinross and the team at Orange, it is heart warming to know that miracles do happen in Bird World.

On 4 December at 09:30 PT, you can witness one of those. Condor 1031, Iniko, will be released into the wild!

As the Dolan fire decimated the beautiful Redwood Forest where Iniko’s nest tree was, everyone believed that the wee babe of Redwood Queen and Kingpin had perished. The streaming cam did not survive the fire and there was no way to find out until it was safe enough to enter the forest. I think that you can well imagine the astonishment on the faces of those that first saw the little condor alive on the small remote camera inserted into the tree.

Here is that video from the Ventana Wildlife Society.

This video shows that rescue!

Here is a link to Iniko’s bio and all of the videos since this amazing California Condor hatched!

https://www.ventanaws.org/condor1031.html

On Saturday, you can watch live when Iniko is released back into the wild of its Big Sur Condor Community. You need to sign up and the Ventana Wildlife Society will send you the link for the Zoom event. It is free! And, yes, we could all use some good news today.

If you want to watch the event life, go to this link and sign up:

https://www.ventanaws.org/zoom-chats.html

Today is also ‘Giving Tuesday’. No doubt you have had lots of e-mails from everyone who depends on donations to survive including those wonderful wildlife rehabbers who give our birds a second chance at life. Many have patrons that will match the total received. It is a good time to double the impact of your gift, if you are able.

Thank you for joining me. If you cannot make the release of Condor 1030 Iniko, the Ventana Wildlife Society will definitely be posting this event. It represents that miracle. I would like to think that maybe there might be a miracle for little Yurruga today.

White Bellied Sea Eaglet 26

Has anyone’s life not been changed by something happening in 2020? Have you had to work at home? did you have a friend or a family member get Sars-COVID 19 and die? Did your business have to close? Did you wonder how you would pay your rent or mortgage? Did you long just to visit with family or friends? Or take that vacation you had been planning for years only to have it cancelled? It clearly has not been an easy year for everyone.

My blog is normally about contemporary Canadian ceramics but this year has been different. In between writing book chapters on ceramics and the environment, I have, like millions of others, taken the time to watch live bird cams. I became very attached to Big Red and Arthur, the Red-Tail Hawks whose territory includes the Cornell University campus in Ithaca. Like so many others, I would wake up in the middle of the night and check on Big Red. Often she was encased in ice (yes, that is true) incubating her eggs or protecting her eyases. The Js fledged about six weeks before the time that the White-Bellied Sea Eagles were hatching in their nest. That nest is in an old Ironwood and Turpentine forest near the Sydney Olympic Park. Two eggs with both hatching. This years numbers are 25 and 26.

WBSE 26 was inspirational. Sometime, shortly after hatching, her leg was broken.  When 26 would cheep when the parents would leave the nest, 25 would comfort 26. This is something very special. Normally sea eaglets are very competitive because that is their instinct, to survive. Even when they were getting ready to be fed, 25 would help 26. What an amazing sibling 25 was.

For more than a month, 26 scooted on its ankles always getting to the prey first but losing it because she could not hold on tight. It didn’t matter. Both thrived under the good care of Lady and Dad.

In the image above, 26 is on the left and 25 is on the right. If they were sleeping in the nest, you could hardly tell them apart. 25 had a little more colour, a little more rust or peach around its head. It was only when they stood up or when 25 was jumping up and down and walking easily that you knew which was which.

26 worked hard to do all the things that her older sibling could do and in turn, she provided inspiration for the elderly and physically challenged on the chat line.  She practiced her wingersizing. She climbed higher and higher on the branches til she got as high as where her parents roosted at night. She figured out how to feed herself and hold on to the prey. Everyone hoped that she would be able to hunt and live like a normal sea eagle in the wild. She had worked so hard to attain every milestone.

26 fledged but returned to the nest after six days.  She rested and the parents fed her.  On the fifth day, she fledged again.  She was harassed by a bunch of currawongs and to help fend them off, a Magpie joined 26.  This is not normal, like everything else in 2020. Normally the Magpies and the eaglets are sworn enemies.

Later that day the currawongs chased 26 out of the forest.  A day later she was discovered on the 22nd floor of a high-rise apartment building a mile away from the nest in the Sydney Olympic Park.  What a surprise that must have been for the owners finding a nearly 75 cm high eaglet with a wingspan of 2.5 metres on your balcony before you have even had breakfast? 26 could not, however, fly out of the balcony because it was partially covered and there was lots of furniture. The owner called the wild life rescue and 26 was taken into care, first by WIRES who provides care and vet services. Later 26 was taken to the team at the Taronga Zoo.

All of her on line fan club hoped that 26 would go through rehabilitation and become an educational bird. She had, however, a broken right leg that had not healed properly. She could not put any weight on it and because of that the left leg had suffered major cuts and lesions for overcompensating. Even the right leg was injured. The veterinary team determined after observing and feeding 26 for several days that she could not survive in the wild if they amputated her leg. They were also concerned about the high level of pain she was experiencing. To try surgery to mend the broken leg meant even more pain and no guarantee of success. However, it was determined that she was in such pain that the kind thing to do would be to euthanize her.  This turned out to be a bit of a controversial decision because of the physically challenged/people with disabilities who saw themselves in her struggle. It will be awhile before all of the tears dry up. Every day someone tells me how much 26 meant to them. Many wrote poems and tributes and I am including the one that I wrote for 26. I hope that it might also be inspiring to you. She was special. No one can quite put their finger on the ‘why’ of it all but there is no doubt in my mind that 26 gave hundreds of people a great gift and that gift was her time with us.

My greatest glory is not my falling but in rising up when I did.

Many believed I would never stand but, I did.

Many believed I would never branch.

Many believed I would never stand to sleep.

Many believed I would never self-feed.

But, I did all of those things.

Many believed I would never fly.

But I flew, high and fast, with strong wind in my wings.

Believe in yourself as I believed in me.

Soar above everyone’s expectations.

Don’t count how many days you soar but how well and high.

Never give up.  I didn’t.

Images Courtesy of Sea-EagleCAM@BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre, Sydney Olympic