Rare eagle chicks hatching is 'milestone' for reintroduction scheme

White-tailed eagle chicks bord recently in Co Clare. Picture: NPWS
White-tailed eagle chicks bord recently in Co Clare. Picture: NPWS

THE birth of two rare birds of prey as part of a programme to reintroduce them to Ireland has been hailed as a "milestone" by conservationists.

The white-tailed eagle chicks were born in Co Clare to a male released in 2008 and a female introduced in 2020.

The species was wiped out in Ireland by humans in the early 20th century, and a programmed to reintroduce them began in 2007.

They have had a successful breeding season after last year saw spring storms disrupt nests leaving just one successful nesting pair.

Two adult white-tailed eagles were found dead in Co Antrim last month, sparking a police investigation, with one of the birds identified as being born in Norway and brought as a chick to be released in the lower Shannon estuary in 2022.

The Republic's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said the new male father had previously partnered to produce chicks, before the female died of avian flu.

It is understood to have lived alone in the east Clare area before successfully mating after four years.

The NPWS's Eamonn Meskell, who heads the reintroduction programmed, said: “We have been monitoring these eagles for many years and of course we feel very familiar with their history as part of the project. 

“A story like this really brings our reintroduction programme to life, as it helps people to learn about eagle breeding behaviour and the fragility of our reintroduction efforts, all told through the story of a widowed eagle. For our project, the appearance of any new chick is a milestone and shows that the continuation of the project is proving successful.”