How do you tell male and female ospreys apart? And how can you tell the difference between our resident Loch Arkaig pair, Louis and Aila, and other local birds?
Louis and Aila have made our Loch Arkaig nest their home for the last two seasons and will hopefully return from Africa soon to raise more chicks. Our live nest cam has caught all the action and we'll be watching closely for this year's activity.
To help you recognise our ospreys when they come back, we've put together some handy identification tips. Massive thanks to Mary Cheadle of the Friends of Loch Arkaig Ospreys group, who has pulled together the photos illustrating the main identifying features.
Look at the size of the osprey
Female ospreys are up to 20% larger than males. This is handy if you have a pair sitting together but not so helpful if you only have one bird in view. And in Louis and Aila’s case the size difference isn’t all that noticeable.
Check the osprey’s chest markings
The main useful visual clue is the 'bib' or 'necklace' marking on the osprey’s chest. Adult females tend to have quite pronounced brown necklaces while adult males have a lighter marking, sometimes fading to virtually nothing.
Our camera nest pair look fairly typical. Aila has a very pronounced brown necklace and Louis has much lighter markings, although he is at the darker end of the male range.