Osprey Q and A
Q: Was Blue YZ fishing for herself before she left? If not, is this normal? How will she manage on her own if she migrates before learning to fish, and without dad to feed her?
A: This is completely normal- younsgters will continue to beg for food as long as the parents instinctively respond to their calls ( why work hard catching your own if dad will do it for you?) . That is not to say the juvenile is incapable of fishing- she has been honing her skills for weeks now and though we haven’t seen her doing it , it is possible she has had some success out of our sight.
For all young birds there comes a ‘tough love’ stage where they have to go it alone, and become fully independent and for ospreys their parents migration is it. Most people used to believe young ospreys never fished for themselves until left alone on their first migration, but we now know they do start trying at least until necessity forces them to do so. Necessity is a great teacher and we believe much of the ospreys fishing behaviour is innate- that is inbuilt and instinctive.
Now you know why the osprey parents stuff quite so much food into their chicks before leaving- it is to make sure they have a good layer of fat reserves to fall back on if their hunting is lean in their first few days or weeks alone.
Q: Is it possible to again start viewing the tracked ospreys movements on Google Earth? It would be interesting to compare routes and locations to last years Loch of the Lowes chick Blue 44?
A: Absolutely! This is one of the most exciting aspects of our Satellite tracking project- being able to compare the results of two different years juveniles from the same nest, and see if there are similarities that bear out the theory that much of osprey migration is genetically inherited.
This automatically comes up with this years chick Blue YZ ‘s map first, and you can then choose to ” View in Google Earth”. If you would like to see what last years Juvenile Blue YD is up to in Senegal, simply choose “2012 chicks” from the drop down box, and his map will appear. We will continue to post summarys and discussions of both their movements here on the blog too.
Q: I live in East Devon and often watch the birds overhead. A couple of
days ago I saw a bird very high in the sky just gliding along for a very
long way. It must have been a big bird to see it at that distance – could
it have been an osprey and do they travel this way on their migration?
A: Yes Ospreys are on the move all across Europe and in the UK this is the best time to see them in southern areas as they cross over England on their way south. Anywhere near water with good fishing is worth a look as they birds frequently stop for a rest and a feed on route. The Axe estuary in east Devon is a very well know stopping point popular with the birds from Scotland. Ospreys can migrate quite high ( as do some other birds of prey) but equally can be seen just a few hundred feet in the air , so keep a sharp eye out!
Q: Has the male migrated as well? Do chicks leave before dad leaves, or does dad leave first, so then the chicks leave?
A: Yes we believe he too has gone- this is fairly typical for the male to hang around for a day or two after the youngster leaves, then head off himself. Sometimes it is the other way around- each bird is an individual.
Q: When she heads south she doesn’t go with her father does she? Do ospreys join up in any kind of group to head south, or are they pretty much on their own, or is it a little of both
A: No the parents and their chicks do not travel together or meet up. We know this because ospreys are very rarely seen on migration in the company of others and almost always leave for their journeys at staggered times. Only once they reach Africa, can they be sometimes be seen in high densities on estuaries and coastal areas, but each keeps their own space and they don’t ‘flock’ like many other birds, or use large communal roosts.
Q: My question is where does the male catch salmon – from the Braan or Tay or…both?
A: Salmon isn’t a common diet item for our ospreys , and you are right they always come from the nearby fast flowing river’s- both the Tay and the Braan are within easy ‘commuting’ distance for our male osprey.
Q: Do the male and female meet up down south, or only when they come back to the nest again next year?
A: We don’t believe so- ospreys have never been recorded in Africa with their nesting partners. This is the same with many migratory birds, even those that mate for life. However, with the new research coming in from Satellite tracking, we may learn more about where mated pairs spend their winters- is it even in the same country in west Africa?
Q: It is the same male again that will come back to the nest with Lady, isn’t it?
Q: If both ‘our’ birds survive the winter and their return migration, they will both return to the same successful nest site next year. Generally it is only if one of the partners doesn’t make it back that they choose a new mate from the ‘single’ ospreys around in the spring.