Famous eagle nest unlikely to provide drama this year

The nest of white-tailed eagles in Durbe, beloved by online spectators, has fallen down and the birds will probably not rebuild it this season, the Latvian Fund for Nature has announced.

For ten years now, members of the public have had the opportunity to watch events online in several bird's nests in Latvia, with the white-tailed eagle nest always the most popular. In total, these live broadcasts have approximately four million views each year. 

Sadly, only tree branches fluttering in the wind can be seen in the live bird nesting camera in Durbe. The drama here has been intense at times and in 2020, it housed a pair of sea eagles, Raimis and Milda , whose stormy relationship was worthy of any soap opera.

However, the Latvian Fund for Nature says that this season at least, the series will likely take a break. 

Ornithologist Jānis Ķuzis explained why it seems unlikely the nest will be restored in the Spring. 

"This time, the fall of the nest has coincided with the situation that one of the birds in the pair has changed. Namely, the male that nested in this nest in the previous season has disappeared, and the female is now starting to form a pair with a new male. New in terms of age, as well. For this bird, we know the origin - it hatched in 2017. Taking into account that white tailed eagles usually start nesting at the age of five, we can assume that this bird has not nested until now," said Ķuzis.

The birds have unsuccessfully tried to restore the nest a couple of times, but so far have not succeeded. Therefore, it is reasonable to suspect that nesting will not take place in this place and the camera will have to be moved to another place.

"We have been observing the Durbe nest for ten years, and during this time we have seen the replacement of many pairs there. We have seen conflicts, we have seen successful and unsuccessful nestings. And these unsuccessful nestings have been affected by various conditions. We have even seen that there is intraspecies competition.... Very interesting things," said Ķuzis.

This season – at least 10 nests live

Two more online nests are currently active – another sea white-tailed eagle nest in the Kemeri National Park and a chicken hawk nest, where the birds are preparing for the new nesting season, which will start very soon.

This season, viewers will be able to observe at least 10 bird nesting sites including little eagles, black and white storks, goshawks, ospreys and kites.

Bird watching online with 24/7 access to this data gives an unprecedented opportunity to see the most intimate moments of birds' lives and understand bird behavior and relationships.

Agnis Bušs, an ornithologist of the Latvian Ornithological Society, said that it would not be possible to collect such data with old-fashioned bird watching methods.

"Decades ago, ornithologists did this by sitting in a hide as close as possible to the nest, and of course that couldn't happen 24 hours a day. What hours or days you spend in a hide, what you observe, you observe. So there is definitely this scientific benefit. But in that at the same time, the educational and emotional benefit of being able to see the birds up close is very important. People get to know, see, empathize more and more," Bušs pointed out.

Livestreams promote interest in bird watching

In addition, these live broadcasts also promote interest in bird watching and bird life. In recent years, the number of members of the Ornithological Society has increased significantly, and currently it reaches 800 people. There is also great interest in the society's lecture series "First steps in bird recognition" which is organized every year, and in which newcomers are introduced to all the birds of Latvia in video lectures, so that those interested can go out into nature independently or together with like-minded people and strengthen their knowledge.

"If you study hard, you can learn all or almost all birds at a normal level within two years," Bušs said.

If you would like to check the nest livestreams yourself, you can do so at the website of the Latvian Fund for Nature, on its YouTube channel and also on the portal dabasdati.lv.

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