Osprey Questions

Thank you to everyone who has sent in Osprey questions recently – whilst I may not be able to send everyone a personal answer, I will try to share all these questions on the blog so we can all share the answers. If you can’t find what you’d like to know in our extensive FAQ section ( on the above menue bar) just ask us on ospreys@swt.org.uk

 Q: When can we expect eggs?

A: Our resident female osprey has laid eggs in the past as early as the 1st of April and as late as the beginning of May- the timing all depends on when she and her partner arrive and when mating starts. Usually ospreys lay eggs 9-12 days after first mating (presuming both birds are fertile) but this can be longer. As our birds this year mated for the first time on the 30th, she could lay eggs anytime from now on.

 Q: Is our new male moonlighting with another female/ nest which might explain his low fish delivery here?

A:   It is highly unlikely our male osprey is courting more than one female, as there isn’t another nest that close, and he is spending most of his time away from the nest on nearby trees along the loch, well within sight. His lack of fish delivery is down to his being a bit selfish- he caught three fish yesterday but only shared one! We shouldn’t worry too much whoever, as hopefully once eggs are laid, he will step up his efforts- the hormonal drive to provide should kick in.

 Q: Should we be worried that the male isn’t providing a lot of fish to the female?

A: On average it seems he is providing two fish a day so far to his mate, though he is catching more and not sharing all of them. This is enough to provide for her basic needs, but not overly generous! Though she is perfectly capable of fishing for herself, ‘training’ him to provide for her is an important part of the courtship process as soon she will be tied to the nest with eggs and will depend entirely on him. Her ‘nagging’ call begging for food, is her trying to prompt him. It certainly seems that he is a young bird who hasn’t quite got the message yet- but hopefully once eggs are laid his in-built genetic instinct to provide for his offspring will kick in and he will improve his game.

 Q: is the female ok as she seems dull and often rests her left leg?

A: Please rest assured our female is ok as far as we know- it is normal for her to spend most of her time at this stage resting on the nest. She is a little restless as she is hopefully preparing to lay eggs. We will be watching her behaviour very closely over the next few days (and weeks!).  It has been noticed in the past she seem to rest her left leg more than her right- we don’t believe there is a problem though and it may just be a habit- though it is not impossible she might be getting a  bit arthritic given her age.

 Q: Can Ospreys turn their head around 360 degrees like an owl? I saw the female sleeping with her head tucked along her back.

 A: No bird actually has 360 degree rotation: they can’t turn their heads right around. What they can do is turn their head to almost 180 degrees one way, then go back to the front and tune nearly 180 degrees the other way. In effect, ospreys, like owls can turn their heads most of the way around to the rear- to about 160degrees. As you have observed, this means our osprey female can sleep with here head tucked down her back under her wing. This is just one of the amazing adaptations these birds have- to find out more check out our FAQ’s page on the blog.

Preface

Thank you to everyone who has sent in Osprey questions recently – whilst I may not be able to send everyone a personal answer, I will try to share all …

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