Lonely Planet Writer

Rare birds of prey steal underwear from Scottish skinnydippers to line nests

For the second year in a row, rare birds of prey in Scotland have feathered their nests by swooping for skinnydippers’ underwear at a popular wild swimming spot in a highland glen.

Red kite.
Red kite. Image by Stefan Willoughby / CC BY 2.0

Designer brands including Armani clothing garments and socks have taken the fancy of the red kites – and the stolen apparel has kept four chicks warm in the treetops this summer.

Red Kites pilfered naturist swimmers' underwear and socks and the lining of their nests meant four new chicks survived this year
Red Kites pilfered naturist swimmers’ underwear and socks and the lining of their nests meant four new chicks survived this year Image by John Turner / CC BY 2.0

A gamekeeper in the estate came upon the clothing after he found the chicks in the Gannochy Estate of the Angus Glen.

Dave Clement contacted the RSBP about having the chicks ringed and recorded and informed officials that the birds had nested close to a gorge in Glenesk that often attracts swimmers.

However, he joked that the kites seemed to have become more discerning when it came to the type of underwear chosen this year, claiming the pants were definitely more expensive.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the birds took the clothing to line their nests. Mr Clement said their strategy appeared to be working well. Last year only two chicks survived but there were four healthy young ones in the nest this year. One is smaller than the others but he was hopeful that it would be ok.

Red kites have a history of stealing whatever they can find to add comfort to their nests. In the past in England such items as national flags, tea towels, frilly knickers and lottery tickets have been found as part of the dwelling infrastructure.

According to the RSPB, the kits appear to favour underwear and will even wrestle it off a clothes line.

Kites have made a strong comeback in both Scotland and England after becoming virtually extinct in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.