Norwegian osprey chicks wing it to Switzerland in conservation project

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Norwegian osprey chicks wing it to Switzerland in conservation project
One of the Switzerland-bound Norwegian birds. Photo: Marie Peyre

After over a century without the animal, Switzerland’s osprey population is about to take off again with an influx of Norwegian birds.


Staff from the Østfold University College yesterday captured the first of a contingent of young Norwegian ospreys to be sent to Switzerland in an international conservation project.

The project, a collaboration with the Swiss organisation Nos Oiseaux (Our Birds), aims to help the central European country revive its population of the fish-eating bird of prey.

“Switzerland has not had ospreys since 1914,” Rune Aae, biologist and assistant professor in natural sciences at the Østfold University College, told NRK after capturing one of the birds in a pine forest in the Sarpsborg municipality.

Biologist Rune Aae high in the Østfold forest. Photo: Marie Peyre

Østfold University College received last year a request from Nos Oiseaux to help in the project, reports the Norwegian broadcaster.

“Switzerland will be sent 60 ospreys over five years, with half of these coming from Norway,” Aae said.

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Nos Oiseaux conservationist Wendy Strahm said that the reintroduction of the bird into the Swiss ecosystem would be a boon for the country’s environment.

“Humans have done so many terrible things to the environment. That’s why it’s our job to take responsibility and to try to fix some things. The osprey is an important species for the ecosystem,” she told NRK.

After arriving from Norway, Switzerland’s new birds will be kept in cages for around two months before being released into the wild, Strahm said.

The birds, which are migratory, will then fly to Africa before returning north to nest – to Switzerland, rather than Norway, where they were hatched.

The osprey is philopatric, which means that it will return to the place where it first flew – which will now be Switzerland,” Strahm said.

She told NRK that she was convinced the project would be a success, since the Østfold habitat in which ospreys thrive has many similarities to that in Switzerland.

“Switzerland has the perfect landscape with the right kind of vegetation and a lot of food. The only thing we lack is the osprey itself. People also think they are wonderful to look at. Protection of the osprey can also help people to become more involved in the protection and both forests and birds,” she said.

Wendy Strahm of Nos Oiseaux with one of the Switzerland-bound ospreys. Photo: Marie Peyre

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