Thursday, May 22, 2008

Raptor Week

High: 62°
Low: 44°
Conditions: Variable showers
It’s been a day of great contrasts: on the same afternoon that we saw the season’s first hummingbird, Ari turned us back early on our afternoon walk, presumably so that we could get back to the fire in our woodstove. That’s where she’s sitting now, curled up like a damp sled dog.

The real news this week, though, is in big bird land. Earlier this week in Lincolnville (a town we formerly knew only as the site of Ari’s agility school), a juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was released after spending a year convalescing at Avian Haven, a really wonderful rehabilitation center in our area. A photographer from our local paper covered the event and took some great photos:

Today, we joined our good friend Khyra in cyberspace and watched a live stream of the annual Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) chick banding in Khyra’s home state of Pennsylvania. Ari didn’t care much for the sound of protesting chicks, but she stuck around for the entire banding process—including adorable questions from even more adorable grade school kids—before seeking out a more peaceful place for a nap elsewhere in the house.

The biggest excitement for us this week, though, is our first osprey (Pandion haliaetus) spotting. Each year at about this time, the giant raptors return to their massive familial nests, some of which are over 100 years old. Here’s an example of bird and next, taken from Animal DiversityWeb:

We love everything about the osprey: their bellicose good looks, their pronounced sense of place, even the way that males bring females breakfast in bed each day during their roosting season. It’s their family life, though, that has really earned osprey a special place in our hearts.

For the first several years Greg and I lived in Maine, we rented a 19th-century Cape Cod cottage across from a dairy farm. Years earlier, an osprey pair had built a massive nest on a utility pole in one of the cow pastures. Much to our delight, they returned each summer and never seemed to mind a few voyeurs around. Each day, we’d walk our beagle, Kinch, past the nest to check on the family. Once the chicks prepared to fledge, we spend a good part of most afternoons watching flying lessons and subsequent hunting classes.

The chicks were understandably clumsy at first. Luckily, they had patient instructors. Mom and Dad would start by bringing them fish tails to carry around in their new talons. If the number of dropped fish ends around the pole were any indication, this was a tough learning curve. Eventually, though, they'd master the tails; then, the chicks would be given whole dead fish to negotiate. That’s when the fun really began. The rain of fish was frequent enough to warrant wearing a sturdy hat on most days. Once, a chick dropped a whole alewife directly on our understandably perplexed beagle. Luckily, he had a penchant for seafood. And, in spite of his grouchy demeanor, even Kinch seemed to miss the family when they'd all leave at the end of the summer.

We live in a different house now, so Ari hasn’t had the chance to get that intimate with our favorite bird. Still, she’s become pretty adept at picking them out as they soar above us on our walks. And she’s learned to be patient—if not interested—when I slow down the car at each osprey nest I see. She might even agree to head out again this week to check on our most recent visitor—that is, if I can get her to abandon her cozy spot next to the woodstove.


Tracey and Huffle said...

*sigh* I wish I had a fire to curl up next to.

Huffle Mawson, Explorer Cat

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...


Thanks for the inkhlusion in your wonderful post! I had WOO in mine this afternoon after the banding khonkhluded and Mom was able to get some of work job stuff done!!

They are just sooooo khool to watch!!! Thanks fur sharing your special birdy times too - Mom also got to see an egret on her way to work this am - sorry no pikhs - she was driving the xterra and the egret was in the skhy -

Happy almost weekend!


Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Too phunny!

Woo khommented me whilst I was khommeting woo!


JB's Big World said...

Those are big birds. The osprey looks very elegant. I don't know if we have them here in Texas or not.
Thanks for coming to see my small world!

Kapp pack said...

Great birdie pupdates!

Woo woo, Kelsey Ann

Simba said...

That is a big bird!

Simba x

Me & my puppies said...

The Eagle's talons are huge! How wonderful, one more flying freely over our country. He is a true beauty. It is no wonder he is our national symbol.

I happily report the Osprey seem to be in abundance this year. They love to nest on the utility poles. It's an awesome site to see their grand nests capping off a pole.

We have been graced with a Pair of Peregrines. Maybe I post a photo of their nest this week. I'll let you know.

Ferndoggle said...

That Eagle is amazing...and kinda scary looking. We don't have too many interesting birds around us, but I killed one yesterday. Caught it in mid air right in my mouth. Mom almost threw up.


Tracey and Huffle said...

Ari is looking very noble in that picture

Saturday is looking foggy from my end of the world. Cold, too. That open fire would come in handy right about now.

Huffle Mawson, Explorer Cat

Naturegirl said...

What a close and personal look at the majestic eagle!!
I did not know that fact about Ospry and their family nest!! Nature amazes me!

Indy said...

Oh Ari, what a gorgeous picture of you! You are really stunning!

Thanks for visting my blog. I have been behind, my mom has been so busy, but I won't let her slack off on my blog anymore!

Gus and Louie said...

Awesome pictures of the bald eagle.. They are such beautiful birds. We have been watching the falcons on Kyra's blog. They are so cool...

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus and Louie

FleasGang said...

Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by. We don't blame you Ari for wanting to go back home and curl up. We don't like to get wet either. Here in SC, we have a different problem. It gets so HOT and HUMID so quickly in the day that we like to stay inside and curl up under the air conditioning :-)

The FleasGang

P.S. Be careful of those giant birds. They may swoop down and use you as a comforter!

Island Rambles Blog said...

OHHHHHH This was such an interesting post..EAGLES..Ari I have a gift for you and for Kathryn of course too ...look on my site and ask Kathryn if she will give you a biscuit from me and I will give her an award...(I am not joking either...)

Anonymous said...

I'm choked up looking at the photos of the eagle's release. Imagine what a ninny I'd be if I were there in person.

The bald eagles at the Rt 1 nest in Baring do not have an egg again this year. Josephine is growing old and no longer producing. When she first started raising eaglets with Napoleon (their real names) 17-18 years ago they took over an osprey nest. When I passed the nest this week I saw Napoleon and Josephine on the nearby osprey nest and the ospreys on the now former eagle nest. I'm not sure the eagles are giving up their nest yet but it looks like it. Normally they wouldn't allow the ospreys near their home.

Sandpiper said...

A beautiful portrait of Ari. The eagle shots are stunning. It sounds like a wonderful and interesting day.

The Army of Four said...

First, I must say, what a GREAT picture of Ari! What a beauty! Ha rooooo!
And the BIRDIES! Wowzers! What incredible pictures! I listened to the falcon puppies on Khyra's web cam thingie yesterday - heard them squawking and I got closer to the screen - then BAM! The mama bird came in and stared staring RIGHT at me! I left. I think I know what Mom means by that "heebie jeebies" thing now.
We get Bald Eagles here during the winter. They're really incredible. I think their vacation's over now; they must have gone home.
Play bows,

The Army of Four said...

"Started staring" right at me. Sorry. Mom pulled an all-nighter because of Storms and the storms and it seems to have affected my typing.

Southbay Girl said...

Wow those birds are BIG! And Ari, you look very interested!!!


umekotyan said...

Good evening Ari.
It is bald eagle ..a lot...
There was a person of the occupation that tamed the hawk "Takajyou" also in Japan in old times. It remains in the name of a place "Takajyou town" near an old castle.

And, though it is recipe.
For two
Chicken is safe and 200g.
Soy sauce teaspoon 1
Sake teaspoon 1
It puts it for about ten minutes.
I think the white wine to be delicious though sake uses sake.
When the color of meat changes in the high heat, the fire puts the vegetable.
When the taste put in order of the bean and asparagus (It is the order it is not easy to pass the fire) is thin, the vegetable adds sake and the soy sauce here.
The end uses sesame oil.
It is attention of the overeating. :)

from loved ume tyan

Pippa said...

We have lots of raptors round here. There are nice sparrowhawks who nest on the cliffs in Spain and when we are in Gib we are on a prime migration route.

Not that mistress has taken any decent pix though. Or any.

Gunner said...

Ari, raptors are sooo cool!
We had some awesome Red-Tailed hawks that lived near our property in Cali.

My mom really misses watching them, they fly with such beauty and grace and in the spring they came to the Ponderosa pines in our yard to mate!


Southbay Girl said...

Ari...I hope you had a nice memorial day weekend with your mom!


Eve said...

Hi Guys!
I live on a b-line course for Ospreys from their little lake (Perch) to the big lake (Ontario). One year an osprey had a fish from the big lake that was SO big he had to take a break on the telephone pole nearest my house before he could make it the rest of the way. Not even the marauding red-wing blackbirds could get him to move on before he was ready. Finally he lifted, fantastic fish facing forward, and circled his way up to a reasonable height, which took a bit of effort and off he went with his prize of the day. I just love the Osprey! What a real trooper!! Thanks for the great story and the memories it revived!

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