Highlands & Islands

RSPB shares public's concerns for osprey chicks

EJ and chicks Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption The third chick hatched in the past week

Three osprey chicks at a Highlands wildlife reserve face starvation after their father's failure to return to the nest with fish.

Odin has been absent for the past few days leaving his mate EJ alone with their newly hatched chicks.

RSPB Scotland says it would be wrong to intervene in the situation at Loch Garten near Grantown on Spey.

It says the birds, which migrate to Scotland to breed, are in their natural habitat.

EJ and Odin are the RSPB reserves most successful breeding pair.

Their latest clutch of three eggs hatched over the past few days.

However, staff and volunteers at the reserve suspect a young male osprey may have frightened off Odin.

EJ's instinct is to remain with her young at the nest, which has come under attack from two ospreys.

Old bird

The RSPB has set out an explanation to why it will not intervene and feed the chicks in its Loch Garten blog.

It said: "We actually believe our non-intervention decision affords the birds the respect and dignity they deserve to face the world on their own terms.

"Sometimes nature is hard to watch and it doesn't always work out.

"This can be difficult to witness and accept. We share in everyone else's disappointment and sadness when that happens, we really do, but we feel that human intervention in a natural process is not the correct course of action, morally or scientifically.

EJ, who is 20 years old this year, has been visiting Loch Garten for 15 years and has reared 25 chicks over that time with mate Odin and other males.

The first chick hatched on Tuesday evening and the others followed over the course of the week, with last one emerging from its egg on Thursday.

The nest is in a tree on an RSPB Scotland reserve near Grantown on Spey.

EJ and her mate Odin are the most successful breeding pair at the Loch Garten site.

Over previous seasons, 17 of their chicks have fledged.

Ospreys migrate from west Africa to Scotland to breed and can be seen hunting for fish from rivers and lochs.

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