First breeding golden eagles in Orkney in almost 40 years

July 1, 2021
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Golden eagles have started breeding again in Orkney for the first time in almost 40 years.

The birds of prey were once a common sight across the islands but just a single pair was left by 1848.

Orkney had to wait until 1966 to see the return of breeding golden eagles, but one of those adults died in 1982.

RSPB Scotland staff spotted a pair nesting at the organisation’s nature reserve in Hoy, and have been able to confirm that they now have chicks.

The number of chicks is not known as the those watching it have been keeping a safe distance away because golden eagles are extremely sensitive to disturbance.

The species typically has one or two chicks at a time.

Their exact location is not being revealed, for their own protection.

‘Missing too long’

RSPB Scotland’s Hoy warden Lee Shields said: “It is wonderful to see these magnificent eagles return to Orkney and we’re delighted that they are nesting in Hoy.

“Golden eagles are one of the most iconic birds in Scotland and they have been missing here for too long.

“We want to give these birds the best chance of success which is why it’s so important to not reveal where the nest is. It is an inspiring sight to see the male and female soaring over the Hoy hills, and we’re eagerly awaiting finding out how many chicks they have.”

She added: “This golden eagle pair are at an early stage of their breeding life and as they are long-lived birds we hope not only that they will be as successful as their predecessors, but that they are the beginning of this species re-establishing itself in Orkney.”

The most recent national survey in 2015 put their UK numbers at more than 500 pairs.

In 2018, Orkney’s first white-tailed eagle chicks for more than 140 years hatched in Hoy.

The terrain in uninhabited areas of the island is described as being “well-suited” for eagles.

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