Wildlife Diary Friday 11th May

Our ospreys quietly and confidently continued incubation today, mercifully not as wet and miserable as yesterday. Amazingly it is only about 10 days until our earliest possible hatching date- though we may have to wait a little  longer to find out if our birds will successfully hatch live young this year- let’s just hope and pray for good warm calm weather the last week of May at least!

 You may have noticed myself and Lindsey on the squirrel camera this morning doing some cleaning: a thorough clean of our woodland bird feeding station. This has been done as two birds have been seen over the last couple of days with symptoms of the Papilloma virus: namely growths on their feet like warts, or ‘cauliflower foot’. Whilst not usually fatal, this infection is obviously a huge disadvantage to birds and it is important to minimize any spread.

The virus is similar to that which cause warts in humans (though each version is host specific and the bird one is NOT thought to be transferable to people) and only affects the upper skins layers. It is spread though contact of infected bodies, faeces etc so hygiene is important.

Wherever we humans create artificially high concentrations of birds through artificially feeding, we have a responsibility to ensure good hygiene and disease control. This means in your own garden as well as areas like our woodland bird feeding station.

Our routine is:

Daily:  change of bathing/ drinking water. Never add new food on top of old wet stuff which goes mouldy and makes birds ill.

Weekly: swap all feeders and wash and dry thoroughly ( we have two sets). Wash off any ground areas tables or perches with warm soapy water.

Monthly: Take in all squirrel feeder boxes, bird tables etc and scrub clean, using a bird table disinfectant. Use bird friendly disinfectant on all perches, ground mats etc (these latter are really useful if you have an area that always gets muddy).

 This kind of routine will ensure your garden birds stay happy and healthy.

 More Osprey Q and A’s:

 Q: Could an explanation for our male Ospreys behaviour of eating the head of the fish first be: to ensure the fish is dead and less of a risk on the nest to chicks  flapping etc.?  

A: This phenomenon has been widely observed for many years, and this theory has been proposed before and is likely to be at least partial right.  However, this does not explain why, when their partners are really hungry and have young chicks, they still bring fish in intact (and alive) occasionally. Perhaps the reason is multiple and the idea of the head being the most nutritious part of the fish is also involved.

 Q: Are you still planning to Satellite Tag the chicks this year?

A:  Yes we are still hoping to satellite tag any Osprey chicks born here this year- provided of course that the eggs hatch successfully which we cannot take for granted.

The moneys for this project have mostly been kindly raised by our volunteers and set aside for this project since we didn’t have the opportunity to launch it in 2011 due to no eggs having hatched.

We believe the scientific information such tracking could provide us with could dramatically improve our ability to monitor and protect these wonderful birds over more of their lives, particularly their hazardous migrations.

Stay tuned for more updates on this project as things evolve this season- and keep your fingers crossed for our chicks!

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Preface

Our ospreys quietly and confidently continued incubation today, mercifully not as wet and miserable as yesterday. Amazingly it is only about 10 days until our earliest possible hatching date- though …

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