White-tailed eagle chicks hatch in five nests

Pairs of eagles in Cork, Clare, Kerry and Galway successfully hatch chicks

White-tailed eagle chick in a nest in Co Clare. Photograph: Allan Mee, Golden Eagle Trust

White-tailed eagle chick in a nest in Co Clare. Photograph: Allan Mee, Golden Eagle Trust


The programme to re-introduce white-tailed eagles in Ireland has been given a boost following the successful hatching of five chicks.

Eight pairs of eagles nested and laid eggs with five of these hatching chicks in counties Cork, Clare, Kerry and Galway. Three other pairs proved unsuccessful in Kerry.

One hundred young white-tailed eagles were released between 2007 and 2011 in Killarney National Park, Co Kerry following the re-introduction of the endangered species from Norway.

Twenty-nine of these have been found dead, with 13 believed to have been poisoned.

White-tailed eagles can live for 25 to 30 years and generally mate for life, with adult pairs remaining within their home range throughout the year.

Golden Eagle Trust project manager, Dr Allan Mee, welcomed the arrival of the chicks but warned that poisoning remains the biggest threat to the endangered species.

Poisoning mainly results from farmers leaving traps for foxes and crows, especially during the lambing season, he said.

Dr Mee warned the public to only observe the eagle nests from a distance.

“We are very conscious of the risk of disturbing the birds especially at this stage of nesting. Disturbance could result in the birds leaving the small chicks unguarded for a period during which they could be predated or be chilled or the birds could desert the site,” he said.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, described the birth of the eagles as a “positive sign” for the recovery of the species.

“The white tailed eagle is an iconic bird, which is very popular in local communities and of course attracts interest from visitors,” she said.

The chicks will remain in their nests for the first 11-12 weeks following the hatch when they will then attempt their first flight.