White-tailed chicks are flown into Kerry airport to boost eagle population

Arrival of birds from Norway is the latest part of a 14 year reintrouction programme

There are signs that some Irish-bred eagles are now reaching maturity and starting to breed in the wild. Stock photograph of a white-tailed eagle. Photograph: iStock

The eagle has landed again. Almost two dozen white-tailed chicks arrived today at Farranfore at Kerry Airport in a direct flight from Norway in the latest leg of a 14 year reintroduction programme.

The arrival of the 23 Norwegian chicks on Friday is a boost to the population after set backs including weather and Avian flu over the past three years.

It coincides with the anticipated rare fledging of three chicks from a single nest on Lough Derg from a pair of reintroduced eagles, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) said.

Since the programme’s inception in 2007 by the NWPS in the Killarney National Park, some 133 young eagles have now been brought into Ireland directly from Norway.


It is regarded as a success as the eagles are breeding. So far over 30 chicks have fledged from nests as a result of pairings.

The expected successful fledgling of three chicks in 2021 from a single nest in Lough Derg is rare worldwide, the NPWS said.

There are also signs that some Irish-bred eagles are now reaching maturity and starting to breed in the wild.

However, a scientific review of the reintroduction project indicated the small population is still vulnerable to mortality factors such as illegal poisoning. The breeding population was also negatively impacted by Avian Influenza in 2018 and storm Hannah in 2019, and adverse weather this year when pairs were on the nest.

” Thus, this supplementary release is required to bolster the existing population,” the NPWS said.

This year’s ‘crop’ of reintroductions is made up of chicks collected under licence from nests in the Trondheim area of west central Norway by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

The chicks will spend the next eight weeks in purpose built cages at sites across four counties in Munster including Killarney, Cork, Clare and Waterford, before being released into the wild.