Our Ospreys at Loch of the Lowes have been busy all weekend getting settled on the nest. They are going through all the standard courtship gestures and behaviour, despite being a new couple, which is a great sign: they have been mating several times a day; they male has brought the female several fish, which she seems often inclined to eat away from the nest; and the male has been bringing in lots of nesting material.
This latter is interesting in that, instead of the huge sticks that Green 7Y was inclined to bring in past years (you may remember our past male bird seemed determined to bury his mate with sticks), this bird seems to prefer moss, bracken and loose material for nest lining, and has been helping scrape out a deep central cup for the eggs by lying on his stomach and using his feet to scrape.
Our female has been using her food ‘begging call’ to encourage the male to fish for her- though this morning at around 8am she gave up and went fishing for herself!
Both birds have been regularly on the nest for longer periods and importantly the female has been roosting on the nest at night too which is a sure sign she is settled and happy back on her nest, for the 22nd year in a row.
There are a few visual clues that can be used to tell our two current birds apart despite the lack of leg rings on them both: the female is the larger of the two; the male is much darker in his brown plumage areas; If you look carefully you will also notice his wingtips are very long, and actually cross past the end of his tail, unlike the females which stop at her tail; the male has a rear of head marking with a horizontal line at the top which the female lacks. There will be other subtle differences we learn as we get to know him better.
There has naturally been a lot of speculation about what might happen if our regular male Green 7Y, turns up now, and finds his regular mate with another bird. It is most likely that a spirited tussle for the right to the nest and the female will take place and one of the two males will succeed- there is no way of being sure which!
As long as Green 7Y turns up soon, there may be no problem as if he is successful he will take over the nest and resume his traditional duties. He is likely to mate with the female and when eggs are laid will probably tolerate them, even if they are not genetically his.
However, if Green 7Y turns up too late, when eggs are already laid, there may well be problems as it has been known for males to destroy eggs that are not theirs. Only time will tell which scenario will play out here this year.