pic: Mike Brown birdwatchireland.ie
White-tailed Eagle chicks have been successfully hatched in Ireland for the the first time in over 100 years.
In the last few days its been confirmed that two sets of eagles have hatched chicks. One at nest sites based in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry and the second pair at a site near Mountshannon, Co Clare.
This pair also made history in 2012 when they nested for the first time.
The new chicks are the first of the high profile reintroduction programme for the White-tailed Eagle which began in 2007, with the release of young Norwegian eagles in Killarney National Park.
The reintroduction programme was developed and funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with Golden Eagle Trust.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan said that the arrival of the new chicks was a momentous occasion for the breed in Ireland given that these are the first chicks to be successfully hatched in over 100 years.
"The principal aim of this project is to re-establish a viable breeding population of White-tailed Eagles and today’s events are the big step towards achieving that goal," Minister Deenihan said.
"The adult eagles from Norway were released in Killarney National Park and will be the building blocks of a sustainable native population of the birds for the future," he added.
Minister Deenihan said that ultimately, the viability of the reintroduction programme will depend on the chicks going on to breed themselves, but whatever the outcome, the signs are good for future breeding in the area and at other sites across Ireland.
White-tailed eagles can live for 25-30 years and generally mate for life with adult pairs remaining within their home range throughout the year. First time breeders, especially young birds, often fail at their first attempt. But continued support from local landowners and communities will help the species have a bright future in Ireland.
Nesting in Ireland began in late March with pairs laying eggs in nests in Clare and Killarney.
One pair laid eggs in Mountshannon in 2012 but failed to hatch chicks. However by January 2013 they had already built a new nest.
The birds, originally brought in from Norway, were released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, as part of the white-tailed eagle reintroduction programme. Several pairs have now established themselves in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Galway at coastal and inland lake sites.
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