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More white-tailed eagle chicks spreading their wings!

August 14th, 2023

One of our white tailed eagle chicks is checked, tagged and prepared for release. Photo by Valerie O'Sullivan.

I spent a wet but wonderful weekend in Killarney National Park, where I got to witness once again the release of some magnificent white tailed eagle chicks. That brings to 24 the number of chicks that have been released this year under the National Parks and Wildlife Service's ongoing reintroduction programme.

It's always incredible to watch these young birds take flight, it's nature restoration in action as year by year we see this once extinct species return to Irish skies and to a landscape they once thrived in, before they sadly became extinct in the nineteenth century.

With NPWS staff and representatives of the Norwegian embassy, I watch a white tailed eagle chick take flight.

Since 2007, our NPWS has been working tirelessly, in collaboration with our partners in Norway and with farmers and communities around the country, to reintroduce this iconic species to Ireland. Like their predecessors, the four juveniles we released this weekend were born in Norway, and they will join a growing population across our island, with a total of 171 white-tailed eagles having been released through the programme to date.

Many of those birds have bred successfully here, and some of their Irish-born offspring are now breeding too, and that growing population is a testament not just to the success of the reintroduction programme itself, but also to the wide-ranging programme of habitat restoration and engagement with landowners that secures the ongoing protection of these birds.

Checking out his new home. A white tailed eagle chick surveys his surrounds in Killarney National Park.

As apex predators, white-tailed eagles perform a vital role in our ecosystems, and the sight of them soaring in the thermals is a privilege that everyone who lives in or visits Ireland can now have the opportunity to enjoy. There is always huge interest from the public in these birds and their reintroduction, and locations where they're spotted attract many visitors and local interest. Our NPWS team also monitors them, and their movements, closely, and we love to hear about sightings of the birds around Ireland and further afield. Hopefully we will these four birds mature and thrive and go on to fledge their chicks into the future.

As always I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to our NPWS staff for their commitment and dedication to this initiative; to our international partners from Norway; and last but not least to the communities around the country who are taking these birds to their hearts and embracing the return of the white-tailed eagle to our landscapes.


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