Osprey Q and A: 2nd April

We are all delighted here at Loch of the Lowes that both our resident ospreys are settling in really well and taking up their usual roles without any hesitation at all.

There have been more successful matings and both birds have been bringing in nesting material to add to the nest. The male has succeeded in fishing, despite the awful icy conditions and has brought food to his mate each day- a crucial behaviour in strengthening and reaffirming the pair bond each year.

There has been no sign at all of the other female bird , and not much other osprey intruder activity, though there will still be other birds around for some weeks yet, it is now obvious that our female will have no trouble seeing them off.

 Lots of Osprey questions coming in to ospreys@swt.org.uk – remember if you can’t find the answer in our FAQ tab at the top of this page, feel free to send it in. We can’t always give a personal reply but will cover them all here on the blog so we can all share the answers.

 Osprey Q and A’s

 Q: Is “Lady” in good condition?

A: Our female is looking fine- she is neither fat nor too thin (usually judged in birds by the amount of fat they have over their breast bone) and though she has a few rough edges to her feathers, she is in good general condition.

 Q: Is the female defecating on the nest unusual? Could it be her territorial marking after another bird has been on her nest?

A: Yes it is unusual for this bird- she is normally highly fastidious. We don’t know why she has done this several times now, but ‘making her mark’ is definitely a possibility. It will be interesting to see if this behviour continues.

 Q: Is there something wrong with the females wing or is it just a loose feather?

A: Her wing is fine, but you are correct there is a loose feather. This is absolutely normal, as female ospreys often do a lot of molting on the nest. As she has a relatively period of  inactivity ahead during incubation etc, it is the ideal time to shed some old tired feathers, and grow some new, darker ones in.

 Q: Did the male and female recognise each other and could they have spent winter together?

A: The birds definitely recongise each other- you can tell this from their relaxed and confident behavior towards each other, and the quick way they got on with mating.

However, they do not overwinter together and do not travel on migration together- as you can tell from the week’s difference between their arrival dates.

 Q: Will the cold weather delay osprey egg laying and hatching this year?

A: This is a really interesting question. We have noticed many other birds suspending their courtship and nesting over the last two weeks with the cold snap, and concentrating on pure survival. The weather is undoubtedly going to make the male’s job of fishing much harder- fish sink low in cold water and can’t be caught under ice! Whether or not our Ospreys will delay egg laying remains to be seen- we think they will probably carry on as normal.

 Q: When is the earliest we might expect eggs?

A: Osprey eggs are generally laid 7-10day from first mating, so late next weekend or next week would be most likely.

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We are all delighted here at Loch of the Lowes that both our resident ospreys are settling in really well and taking up their usual roles without any hesitation at …

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