A few ornithologists have dreamt of seeing Ospreys breed in Switzerland once again. Since a quarter of a century some artificial nests were even built to entice them back, but with no success. A defining moment for our project occurred on September 5, 2010, when two Nos Oiseaux members visited the top of the Schilthorn, hoping to see one or two Bearded Vultures (a species which now, thanks to a very successful reintroduction programme, is again breeding in Switzerland).
To their surprise, instead of a Bearded Vulture, they spotted an Osprey. It was flying at about 3,250 m altitude over the Alps, on migration to its wintering grounds much further south. Such a remarkable observation of this raptor (to which not even high mountains present a major barrier) played a decisive role in the start of the project. At a time when Nos Oiseaux was preparing to celebrate its 100th birthday (having been created just around the time when the last pair of breeding Ospreys in Switzerland were breathing their last), it seemed appropriate to undertake a project aimed at bringing this species back.
Roy Dennis, one of the most experienced Osprey experts in Europe, was then invited to western Switzerland by Nos Oiseaux to undertake a feasibility study. The result of his visit in January 2012 was positive: Switzerland still has ample habitat and fish for the birds to thrive. The only problem is that once birds are eliminated in a given region, they lose their tradition to nest there. However, this can be remedied by using a tried and tested technique: reintroducing young birds by “hacking” (see project description).