Highlands & Islands

Stuffed toy Rudolph is red kite target

Items recovered from red kite nests
The toy Rudolph, right, with other items found by RSPB Scotland staff

A stuffed Rudolph reindeer was among cuddly toys that have been found in the nests of red kites, according to the RSPB Scotland.

The raptors may have mistaken the teddies for prey.

Scottish kites have also been found lining nests with coloured string, paper, socks, underwear and children's lost gloves.

RSPB Scotland said the bird's opportunistic behaviour has been evident for centuries.

The conservation charity said Shakespeare recorded red kites' scavenging of man-made materials when he warned 'when the kite builds, look to lesser linen,' in The Winter's Tale (Act 4, scene 3).

At the time the species was protected by Royal decree because it picked up waste and rubbish from streets.

Brian Etheridge, of RSPB Scotland, added: " Over the years we've found many strange and interesting things in the nest of red kites.

"The birds use these items, many of which are discarded by humans when out in the countryside, to line their nests.

"However, cuddly toys are probably taken as they are mistaken for food. We often find them later with bits of stuffing pulled out."

Red kites can be seen scavenging along the A9 road in Ross-shire and the Black Isle in the Highlands.

The birds have also been seen over the centre of Inverness.

Last month, a report claimed visitors to a kite project in south west Scotland put at least £21m into the local economy in the past six years.

The Galloway Kite Trail was created by a partnership led by RSPB Scotland.

It has also been estimated that the project has supported about 13 full-time jobs each year since it started.

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