White-tailed eagle back from extinction in the UK

November 19th, 2007 - 2:34 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov.19 (ANI): The majestic white-tailed eagle that was once declared extinct in Britain is soaring over its skies once again.
According to The Telegraph, there are now more white-tailed eagles than at any time since a recovery programme was launched more than 30 years ago.
A survey has shown there are now 42 breeding pairs, all on the west coast of Scotland, six more than last year. It has also been a record year for breeding with 34 young birds emerging from 24 successful broods.
There are now an estimated 200 individual white-tailed eagles in Scotland.
The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus Albicilla) sometimes known as the sea eagle and Britain’s biggest bird of prey, was persecuted to extinction in the early 1900s and the last surviving bird was shot in 1918.
The bird has an eight-feet wingspan with distinctive fingers at the tips and short wedge-shaped tail and is known as “flying barn doors” by bird watchers.
Since the drive to reintroduce the eagle began it has been closely monitored by the Sea Eagle Project team, which includes RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Birds were brought back from UK extinction by reintroduction programmes, first on the island of Rum from 1975 to 1983 and then on Wester Ross from 1993 to 1998. It is now firmly established as well on Skye, Mull and the Western Isles.
Expansion has come with increasing numbers and breeding pairs have established territories as far south as the Argyll islands and west on to the mainland in the Highland district of Lochaber.
The next phase of the project will involve the introduction of chicks taken from nests in Norway, where the bird flourishes, to the east coast of Scotland.
The Irish are introducing a similar programme in the Killarney area of south-west Ireland and eventually it is hoped they will be reintroduced to England.
The eagle preferred habitat is sheltered lochs or sea lochs rather than exposed coastal sites and they prefer to nest in trees rather than cliffs.
They are resident all the year round and normally remain close to their nest site. The eagles do not begin to breed until they are five to six years old and have a low reproductive rate with the females laying only one to two eggs per year.
More than half of the fledgling eagles - 60-70 per cent - will not survive their first year but if they do they can live for more than 20 years.
They feed on fish, sea birds and duck but most bird watchers look for them on a high perch overlooking water from where they swoop and pluck fish from the surface.
The eagles have also become big business. Mull’s birds are a tourist magnet, boosting the island’s economy by 1.7 million pounds annually.
The 350,000 visitors who visit Mull every year spend 38 million pounds on the island, and of this between 1.45 million pounds and 1.69 million pounds is brought in by the sea eagles. (ANI)

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