First white-tailed sea eagle chick in east of Scotland for 200 years

White tailed eagles in Scotland

Conservationists are celebrating the sighting of a chick for a pair of Scottish white-tailed eagles located on the east coast of Scotland

A pair of white-tailed eagles have made history on the east coast of Scotland after conservationists spotted the flight of a first wild chick. This is the first time in 200 years that white-tailed sea eagles have bred in the east of mainland Scotland.

The pair of eagles were released in 2009 as part of a reintroduction project and have raised one chick in a Forestry Commission Scotland wood in Fife.

Eagles re-introduction programme

In the years between 2007 and 2012, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, with financial support from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Fife and Rural Tayside LEADER Programme 2007-2013, reintroduced a total of 85 eagles to Scotland’s east coast. Their progress and whereabouts has been regularly monitored by project staff and volunteers.

Having found a safe and secure home, the adult pair of white tailed eagles successfully reared a healthy male chick. The chick has now been fitted with a leg ring and white wing tags with black numbering so that it can be tracked in the future.

This week, Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said he is delighted by the news. He added:  “It is the first chick in almost two hundred years to be hatched on the mainland of the east coast, which was the ultimate aim of the reintroduction project. This is fantastic news!

“I hope it will be the first of many of this magnificent species, which will eventually spread their territories right across Scotland. I’d like to thank all partners who have played their part in making this exciting and special event happen.”

Huge milestone for white-tailed eagles

Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said that the chick “marks a huge milestone in a major partnership to restore white-tailed eagles to their former range in the south and east of the country”.

He added: “This success further strengthens the strong bond we have formed with the people of Norway, who kindly gifted birds for release in Scotland throughout the reintroduction process, which started over 30 years ago on the west coast.”

The story of Scotland’s white-tailed eagles

Once a regular sight in Scotland, the white-tailed eagle was driven to extinction in the Victorian era. The last native white-tailed eagle was killed on Shetland in 1918. The species only returned to the UK following a successful reintroduction to the west of Scotland, which began on the Island of Rum in 1975.

Although the majority of the Scottish population of white-tailed eagles remains on the west of the country, the species is now regularly spotted in Eastern and Central Scotland, too.

Have you seen white-tailed eagles in Scotland? Let us know!

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