Osprey with a beer can in his nest

The Osprey, A bird with an appreciation for the finer things.

Among the most widespread birds of prey in America is the Osprey. Whether they simply pass through areas during their migrational pattern or reside permanently, they can be spotted everywhere in America. Through my photography I have noticed that bubble wrap appears to be a staple in any dapper osprey’s nest. I have always assumed this might be due to the fact that bubble wrap is in fact a whole lot softer than jagged sticks and small twigs. I myself would certainly prefer even well worn and deflated bubbles over the softest tree branches. The decision to abscond with the plastic packaging may be primarily motivated by its comfort, however, it may not only be acquired for its plush luxury.

I have occasionally found myself giggling over the viewfinder of my camera when zooming in on an osprey’s nest which inevitably reveals beer cans and other oddities. A trip to the Tampa Zoo’s Birds of Prey Exhibit explained this behavior and more. Collecting various objects is actually quite a common practice among Ospreys. The Zookeepers told stories of finding quite an assortment of random treasures entwined among the branches of their great nests. Single boots and even segments of broken hoses have been discovered. What attracts the birds to these objects is anyone’s guess. Was the beer can in the nest pictured above selected due to its shiny appearance or was it the smell, taste or possibly a combination of factors?

Sadly this propensity to collect man made objects can cause complications and even fatalities to these majestic birds of prey. Bailing twine and fishing line are among the worst offenders when both adults and juveniles get the materials snarled around their talons. So as a note to my readers please take great care to pick up any excess baling twine and fishing line you may be using or find while enjoying the outdoors.

While I have often gotten a good laugh at the various prizes proudly displayed in these massive nests I have also had moments of frustration when a chunks of Styrofoam or the ever-popular bubble wrap disrupts what would otherwise be an excellent photograph. Though the behavior itself is quite fascinating and proves that there is much more to these creatures than one might initially realize. The natural world has so many interesting facets to explore and the behavioral quirks of birds of pray and countless other bird, animals and even insects is certainly a topic that can provide hours of entertainment and inspiration.

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