Nests are integral to the ospreys’ relationship to each other over the breeding season and their long term bonding process. A young pair, on meeting will make a ‘honeymoon’ nest often fairly rudimentary, as a trial run for the next season. It is important to hone nest building skills, work out site suitability and decide who does what.
Males do a lot of the building, but depending on personal inclination a female will also bring up sticks and lining material. Our first female SX would bring up huge swags of moss from the forest floor and then swim around in it to fluff and squash it into shape whilst our second, ‘Mrs’ barely lined the nest at all, although brought up the occasional stick. KL seems to strike a balance between these two extremes, but this season has taken to bringing up swatches of black plastic bag to be intertwined amongst the sticks. Both birds will arrange, and re-arrange the material, singly and together, the point being that it is part of their relationship to cement co-operation – important when you are only together for about 5 months of the year.
It is not surprising then that our Volunteers and staff are a little obsessed with nests and appear to have withdrawal symptoms when away from the telescopes too long. It seems that that some choose their holiday accommodation on the grounds that there is a nest, any nest, to be seen from the bedroom ‘hide’ ! (The point being that all wild creatures, watched intently, are absolutely fascinating.)