Category Archives: Birds of Prey

Watch Nesting Ospreys

Feeding the chicks at the Hellgate osprey nest, 5 June 2018 (photo from Cornell Lab Hellgate Osprey cam)
Feeding the chicks at the Hellgate osprey nest, 5 June 2018 (photo from Cornell Lab Hellgate Osprey cam)

If you miss seeing nesting peregrines on camera here’s a raptor family to watch online.  As of last night (June 5), there were two chicks and one egg still to go at an osprey nest in Montana.

The nest is in Hellgate Canyon next to the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana.  It looks like a very public place but the birds are right next to the river.  The Hellgate valley is so narrow here that the river, the railroad, some businesses, and Interstate 90 are all close by.  We see and hear I-90 traffic in the background. (Click here for a map of the site.)

Louis and Iris are devoted parents whose lives are sometimes complicated by terrible weather and threats from challengers.  And yet they persist.  In this video clip Louis brings Iris a fish to eat while she was incubating last week.  Click here for a 36 minute video of the first chick’s first feeding.

The chicks are tiny.  There’s plenty to see.  Tune in here to watch their progress at the Hellgate Osprey nest.

 

p.s. If you watch before 7:15a Pittsburgh time, you’ll see that the sun hasn’t risen yet in Montana!

(photo from tweet of Cornell Lab’s Hellgate Osprey nestcam)

Red-Tailed Hawks Getting Ready To Fly

Young red-tailed hawk nearly airborne, 3 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)
Young red-tailed hawk nearly airborne, 3 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)

The Pitt peregrines have flown. The young red-tailed hawks in Schenley Park are getting ready to go. Here are photos of their recent activity by Gregory Diskin.

The youngsters are fully feathered now, ledge walking and wing exercising.  On June 3, one of them flapped so hard he was nearly airborne.

Young red-tailed hawk exercising his wings, 3 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)
Young red-tailed hawk exercising his wings, 3 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)

When they aren’t busy exercising, they gaze at their parents who often perch in a large sycamore tree across the way.

Young red-tailed hawks in Schenley Park, almost ready to fly, 2 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)
Young red-tailed hawks in Schenley Park, almost ready to fly, 2 June 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)

And they watch intensely as their parents fly.  “So that’s how it’s done.”

Red-tailed hawk takes off from the nest as a chick watches, 30 May 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)
Red-tailed hawk takes off from the nest as a chick watches, 30 May 2018 (photo by Gregory Diskin)

For more photos of the hawk family’s progress, click here to see Gregory Diskin’s album.

 

(photos by Gregory Diskin)

Red-tailed Hawks At Home

Red-tailed hawk family in a nest in Schenley Park, 14 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)
Red-tailed hawk family in Schenley Park, 14 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)

This spring (2018) I’ve seen two red-tailed hawk nests in Schenley Park and there’s probably a third. Gregory Diskin is documenting one of them with his camera.

Above, the mother hawk watches her two chicks on May 14.  Below, the chicks gaze out from their bridge nest on May 17.

Two red-tailed hawk chicks look out from their bridge nest, 17 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)
Two red-tailed hawk chicks look out from their bridge nest, 17 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)

On May 18 a chick tests his wings.

Red-tailed hawk chicks in a nest in Schenley Park, 18 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)
Red-tailed hawk chick tests his wings in Schenley Park, 18 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)

On May 21 a chick displays his new, reddish chest feathers.

Red-tailed hawk chick, Schenley Park, 21 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)
Red-tailed hawk chick, Schenley Park, 21 May 2018 (photo by Gregory M. Diskin)

(Click on any photo to see more of Gregory Diskin’s album.)

These two will fly in the next few weeks.  They’re much further along than the tree nest overlooking the Parkway where the mother is still incubating or brooding.  She’s hard to see now among the leaves.

If you watch red-tailed hawks in your area you might find a nest. When you see one carrying prey in its talons, it’s taking food to the chicks.  Follow the bird and you’ll find the red-tailed hawks at home.

 

(photos by Gregory M. Diskin)

 

Happy Friday

We’re taking a break from peregrine drama with the cutest owls on the planet.

This video of young burrowing owls was sent as a Thank You from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to its contributors in 2016.

Enjoy!  And happy Friday!

 

(video from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

p.s. In case you’re not familiar with Cornell Lab … they’re a unit of Cornell University that works to advance the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds.  We, and the birds, have all benefited from their work.

You’ve probably used at least one of their online tools or participated in their programs:  All About Birds website, eBird, the Merlin ID app, online bird ID classes (new class this month on Warbler ID!), nestcams & feeder cams, Great Backyard Bird Count, Project Feeder Watch,  … to name a few.

Read more about Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s workJoin them here.

New Eaglet at Harmar

First eaglet of 2018 at the Harmar bald eagle nest (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA)
First eaglet of 2018 at the Harmar bald eagle nest (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA)

Yesterday morning the first egg hatched at the Harmar bald eagle nest high above the Allegheny River.

In the midst of April snow his parents were very attentive as he made his way out of the egg. Fortunately the snow was gone by afternoon.  (video from Audubon Society of Western PA (ASWP))

 

Meanwhile over by the Monongahela River, the Hays eaglet is now eleven days old and will be an “only child” this season.  The last egg is not viable though it’s still in the nest.   ASWP posted this snapshot yesterday on their Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page.

10-day-old eaglet at the Hays bald eagle nest, 2 April 2018 (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA's Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)
10-day-old eaglet at the Hays bald eagle nest, 2 April 2018 (photo from Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)

Watch the Harmar eaglecam for the second egg to hatch in the days ahead.

Keep tabs on the Hays eaglet at the Hays live feed.

And for all the latest eagle news, join the eagle watching community at Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page.

 

(photos and videos from the Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page)

UPDATE:  Second eaglet hatched at Harmar on April 3 at 4:30pm:

Eagle Baby Pictures

Hays bald eagle family, 25 March 2018: two parents, one chick, one egg (photo via ASWP Facebook page)
Hays bald eagle family, 25 March 2018: two parents, one chick, one egg (photo via ASWP Facebook page)

While I was out of the country I missed this year’s first hatching event at the Hays bald eagle nest on March 23.

The video below from Pix Controller’s Facebook page shows the eaglet on March 24.  The photo above from ASWP shows the entire family on March 25.

Though the mother eagle laid three eggs in February, she’s expecting only two to hatch.  Here’s this year’s history:

  • Egg #1 laid on February 13
  • Egg #2 laid on February 15
  • Egg #3 laid on February 19
  • One of the three eggs cracked. It was not viable and was removed by the parents.
  • Hatch #1: March 23
  • Hatch #2:  … UPDATE on MARCH 31: the egg is not viable and will not hatch

When will the second egg hatch?  If the timing of first hatch works for the second one, the last egg will hatch between March 25 (if the remaining egg is Egg #2) and March 29 (if it’s Egg #3). But my math could be wrong.

For more eagle baby pictures and videos visit the Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page.  You don’t have to be a Facebook member to see them.

Meanwhile, Hatch Watch continues.  Click here to see the live feed at ASWP.

 

(photo of the Hays bald eagle family from the Audubon Society of Western PA’s Pittsburgh Eagles Facebook page; video from Pix Controller Facebook page)

The King

King vulture, pivoting on foot (photo by April M King via Wikimedia Commons)
King vulture, pivoting on foot (photo by April M. King via Wikimedia Commons)

On a birding trip to Panama:

In the skies over Central and South America you may see The King soaring overhead.

As large as a bald eagle, the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) can weigh up to 10 pounds with a wingspan seven feet long.

From below he’s unmistakable — all white with black flight feathers, a black tail and a dot for his head.  His head looks small because he’s bald.

King vulture in flight (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
King vulture in flight (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

If he came in for a landing you’d see that his bare skin is colorful — yellow, red and orange.

King vulture, flying lower (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
King vulture in flight (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Though the king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) is related to condors and our familiar turkey and black vultures, he’s the only surviving member of his genus.  His last name, papa, is Latin for pope and was chosen because his white and black feathers resemble a pope’s vestments.

King vulture at National Zoo in DC (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
King vulture at National Zoo in DC (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

No matter his title, king or pope, the King is in charge at the dinner table.  His powerful beak tears open carcasses. When he arrives on the scene other vultures move away.

Like royalty, the King eats first.  When he’s finished everyone else can dine.

 

(photos from Wikimedia Commons; click on the images to see the originals)

Day 3:  Pipeline Road on the border of the Soberania National Park

Eagle Eggs In Pittsburgh

Harmar bald eagle with first egg, 25 Feb 2018. Steve Gosser is visible in the parking lot below (photo from the ASWP Harmar bald eaglecam)
Harmar bald eagle with first egg, 25 Feb 2018. Steve Gosser is visible in the parking lot below (photo from the ASWP Harmar bald eaglecam)

As of Saturday night we have bald eagle eggs in both of Pittsburgh’s on-camera nests.

Near the Allegheny River, the Harmar female laid her first egg for 2018 on Saturday evening 24 February around 5 pm. 

On Sunday Steve Gosser went to the Harmar viewing area and was seen on the eaglecam as a speck in the parking lot far below (photo at top).  He calls it his first Eaglecam selfie.  If you visit the gravel parking lot on Freeport Road near the Hulton Bridge, you might get an eaglecam selfie too.  😉

At the Hays bald eagle nest near the Monongahela River there have been three eggs since February 19, but we haven’t been able to watch them “live.” Pittsburgh’s overcast skies have kept the Hays solar panels too low to broadcast.   No selfies over there!

The sun made a brief appearance yesterday and is due to shine today so the Hays eaglecam will probably return soon at ASWP’s Hays Eagle Nest webpage.

Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the three Hays eggs on February 22 plus links to videos of the three eggs’ first appearances.

Adult bald eagle at Hays nest arranges aleaf near her three eggs, 22 Feb 2018 (snapshot from the Hays bald eaglecam via ASWP)
Hays nest with three eggs, 22 Feb 2018 (snapshot from the Hays bald eaglecam via ASWP)

Keep up with both nests on Facebook at Bald Eagles in Western Pennsylvania — Audubon Society of Western PA or visit the Audubon Society of Western PA’s bald eagle webpage for links to the cams and the latest news.

 

(photos and video from Audubon Society of Western PA’s bald eaglecams at Harmar and Hays)

A Snowy Winter

Snowy owl near Boston, MA, Feb 2018 (photo by Lauri Shaffer)
Snowy owl, Plum Island, Massachusetts, early Feb 2018 (photo by Lauri Shaffer)

This winter has been great for seeing snowy owls in the northeastern U.S. as lots of them have come down from the Arctic for a visit.   Lauri Shaffer photographed these two at Plum Island, Massachusetts near Boston early this month.

Snowy owl, Plum Island, MA, early Feb 2018 (photo by Lauri Shaffer)
Snowy owl female, Plum Island, MA, early Feb 2018 (photo by Lauri Shaffer)

Snowy owls love wide open landscapes so they’re often attracted to airports.  One was seen at Pittsburgh International Airport in January but birders couldn’t go see it because it was in a secured area.

When an owl chooses Boston’s Logan Airport, Norman Smith (director at Blue Hills Trailside Museum) is called in to capture and relocate the owl for the safety of the bird and the planes.  In this video from Massachusetts Audubon, he releases Snowy Owl #26 at Duxbury Beach on January 29.    See the story of this owl at Massachusetts Audubon’s blog post, Releasing Snowy Owl #26.

 

Norman is one of the founders of Project SNOWSTORM, a project that fits snowy owls with transmitters to track their movements.  It’s been such a productive winter that the project is now tracking 24 owls!   Watch their movements online at the Project SNOWSTORM website.

Even though our weather may be crazy hot and cold, it’s been a “snowy” winter.

 

(photos above by Lauri Shaffer at birdingpictures.com, video from YouTube by Massachusetts Audubon, photo below by Kate St.John)

p.s. Last week I saw a snowy owl in Mercer County, PA, shown in a (lousy!) photo taken through my scope.  The owl was much better in real life.

Snowy owl, Mercer County, PA 13 Feb 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)
Snowy owl, Mercer County, PA 13 Feb 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)

First Egg At Hays Bald Eagle Nest, Feb 13

First egg at Hays Bald Eagle nest,13 Feb 2018 (photo from Pix Controller Facebook page)
First egg at Hays Bald Eagle nest,13 Feb 2018 (photo from Pix Controller Facebook page)

The female bald eagle at Hays laid her first egg of the season last night. This photo was captured by PixController and posted on their Facebook page.

Watch the Hays Bald Eagles on camera at this link.

Happy Spring!

 

p.s. February 13 is also the date she laid her first egg in 2016. Amazing.

(photo from the Hays Bald Eagle camera via PixController)