Ospreys hunt, nest and breed along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers.

Sometimes called the Sea Hawk, these large, majestic birds return to their same nests every year, renovating and enlarging them, to lay their eggs and rear their young.

The nest is large, untidy heap of sticks, small branches and bits of driftwood, built up high to give the birds a good vantage point and protect the chicks from raiders.

That used to mean Ospreys built their nest high up in the forks of trees or on rocky outcrops and the like. Many still do.

But as human settlements grew up in the Fraser and Thompson Valleys, the birds began to build their nests in new locations: chimneys, utility poles, bridge trestles and the gantries that carry signals over roads and rail tracks.

And that is a fine and serene thing. It’s nice to have these birds with their 6 feet wingspan living in the community.

But sometimes the nests become a problem. Each year they get a bit bigger and lumps of wood fall off, causing problems as they drop onto cars, power lines and people’s heads.

The birds and their nests are protected, so the folks who live in the towns under the nests have come up with an interesting solution.

First they build large, stable platforms as near as possible to the wobbly nests but in a safe location.

The next challenge is to get the Ospreys to move into their new home. That’s not easy, because they return to the same nest every year. Some of the nests have been there for seventy years.

So, in the winter when the birds have migrated to warmer climes, the local people buy some life-size, plastic pink flamingos – the kind you might stick in people’s front lawns on their birthday or anniversary.

They take off the legs and sit the plastic creature in the old Osprey nest.

On their return, the Ospreys see that a large intruder has commandeered their nest so their instinct is to start a new one close to their favourite spot.

That’s when they see the nice new platform and that’s where they build their new nest.

Now, as you travel along in the Rocky Mountaineer, you see plenty of Ospreys drifting along the valleys or sitting on their nests. And occasionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a large, pink plastic flamingo sitting on its nest.

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