Rare birds nest on candid webcam

The Latvian Fund for Nature together with the nature-themed data portal dabasdati.lv have been promoting the launch of their seasonal webcams, installed so far this year at the nesting sites of two pairs of rare birds – the white-tailed eagles and the black storks.

The black storks (Ciconia nigra) arrived in Latvia after their seasonal migrations from north-east Africa at the end of March, setting up camp in an old oak tree on the bank of a stream in the woods of south-central Zemgale province. The pair immediately got to work renewing their nesting site, creating the twig-wreath and laying it down with soft mosses.

Overnight to Tuesday this week the black storks delivered a delight to all of their viewing fans around the world when the female, named Zīle (which means acorn in Latvian) by viewers, laid an egg. But the webcams had already captured some dramatic footage of other aspects of their lives, including a fight between two males. . 

During the subsequent mating of Zīle with the victor, now christened Ozols (in honor of the tree which he’s nesting in) the footage resounds with the clacking together of their beaks in a "kiss of the black storks."

Meanwhile a pair of white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) have been nesting 25 meters high atop a wind-lashed spruce-tree in western Kurzeme province’s Durbe district since February 11. While the view from there is magnificent, offering even a seeming hint of a glimpse of the beautiful Baltic Sea coast in the distance, the soundtrack at times hears the buzz of chainsaws and forest harvesting equipment going on in the near vicinity, which is worrying for the ornithologists and nature-lovers involved in the popular nature-observation project, as they thought it could disturb the birds' mating behavior.

However it turned out that Roberts and Durbe, as they have been named, managed to deliver two eggs by March 13, on which they shared incubation duties as best they could. Alas, after Robert left their nest unattended for just a few minutes, a ravenous crow cracked open one egg and sucked it dry, only to go for the other one. With Durbe herself rushing back to save her remaining unhatched baby, the crow’s own partner managed to warn it in time for an easy escape, but not before getting in some glancing blows against the second egg.

Observers cannot know whether the chick growing inside will have survived the possibly damaging pecks from the crow’s beak. It also remains to be seen whether Roberts and Durbe will come up with a third egg to offset their family’s loss, but the latest observed deadline for hatching so that the 38-day incubation period can close by mid- to late-April will have passed by the end of this week.

To view the black storks Zīle and Ozols live from their nest, click HERE.

Watch the white-tailed eagles Durbe and Roberts at home HERE.

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