Our poor ospreys have been sitting in the heavy rain for the last couple of days, possibly wondering why they left warmer climates to come to the cold Scottish spring! Despite the rain , the male have been bringing in good sized fish to the nest and courtship is continuing between the pair. The male osprey has been sitting in flat top tree occasionally, but neither bird has been paying serious attention to it as a nesting site. We are therefore confident that the birds will settle in their usual place for the hoped for egg incubation period.
A really interesting email has come in to our email@example.com address regarding the previous blog about ospreys only eating fish, and very rarely crayfish or amphibians.
Q: I am sure I have seen ospreys catching rabbits – could this be possible?
A: I have been discussing this with ospreys experts who between them have over 80 years experience with these birds in the UK- Roy Dennis from Highland Foundation for Wildlife and Keith Brockie from Tayside Raptor Study Group. They are in agreement that although ospreys have occasionally been suspected of taking mammal carrion, the birds are unlikely to be eating the rabbits, rather they may be bringing them to the nest for decoration. Odd as this may sound, ospreys will bring in all sorts of strange things to line and reinforce their nests- we’ve seen black silage plastic, baler twine, cloth material, and all sorts of odd plant matter.
“I’ve had a desiccated female mallard brought in to an eyrie … maybe they were bringing in the remains of rabbits to decorate the nest. Some birds do like to do this, and at one site they continually brought in clumps of flowering marsh marigold!” Keith Brockie
Roy Dennis agrees that mammal and bird remains in nests have often been picked up as nest material, rather than as part of the diet. Quite why an osprey would find carrion suitable nesting material no one knows!
What this tells us is that even a specialised niche predator like an osprey, whose whole physiology is adapted to a fish diet, will diversify is there is enough need, which is a sensible survival strategy.
So , all you avid osprey watchers out there- what’s the strangest thing you’ve seen arrive at an osprey nest? answers to firstname.lastname@example.org