Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sea eagle chicks take to the sky

The sea eagle has a wingspan of about eight feet

A giant bird of prey hunted to extinction in Britain by the Victorians are being reintroduced to the east of Scotland.

A group of 14 chicks from Norway, which have been reared in custom-built aviaries in Fife, have been released at the Tay estuary.

The re-colonisation project, now in its third year, has already proved to be a success in the west of Scotland.

Scotland now has about 200 sea eagles, which have an eight-foot wingspan.

Last year, 44 pairs of breeding birds produced 28 chicks - a record year for the species since it was first reintroduced to the region.

Some birds from the west coast have made their way east - attracted by the new colony on the other side of the country.

'Perfect habitat'

The sea eagle chicks will be fitted with radio tags so scientists can follow their movements for the next five years.

The re-colonisation project involves RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Claire Smith, RSPB Scotland's sea eagle project officer, said: "Now that we're into the third year of the project, these amazing birds are becoming a more common sight around the Tay estuary, which some of the previous year's birds have made their home.

"This shows that the prey and habitat in this area are perfect for these birds and I look forward to seeing this year's birds meet up with their older counterparts.

"The distinct populations around Scotland and Ireland are now starting to meet and mingle, which is a really good sign for the species."

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