Northern Ireland news

Public urged to help build record of red kite population

Red kites were re-introduced into Northern Ireland almost a decade ago. Picture by Ben Hall/rspb-images.com
John Monaghan

THE public is being urged to help build a definitive record of the north's red kite population by keeping an eye on the skies and reporting any sightings.

The appeal has been made by the RSPB, following the re-introduction of the bird to Northern Ireland in 2008.

Red kites were driven to extinction more than 200 years ago, but a campaign a decade ago by the RSPB, the Welsh Kite Trust and the Golden Eagle Trust saw dozens released into Co Down over a two-year period.

Population growth has been slow and some of the birds have died, either through natural causes or through being poisoned or shot.

The RSPB believes that the current population numbers around 21 breeding pairs, but says it needs to reach 50 pairs to be sustainable in future.

Alan Ferguson, RSPB NI red kite monitoring officer said: "People will be able to easily identify red kites with their rusty-red colouring, a distinctive forked tail, white patches under each wing and inky black wing tips, not to mention their five-and-a-half-feet wingspan."

Anyone who spots red kites is asked to contact the RSPB at redkiteni@rspb.org.uk.

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Northern Ireland news