Golden eagles breed at Highlands rewilding estate for first time in 40 years

A pair of golden eagles has successfully reared a chick in an artificial nest at a Scottish Highlands rewilding estate, marking the first known return of the birds of prey to breed at the site in 40 years.

The eagle chick flew from the nest at Trees for Life’s flagship Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston for the first time last week.

It comes some five years after a Trees for Life team and conservationist Roy Dennis set up an eagle nest or eyrie at a prime location to entice the birds of prey back. There was no certainty the project would work. Golden eagles build their own nests in remote and inaccessible places, and are highly sensitive to disturbance.

Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Manager, said: “When we built the artificial nest, we knew it was in a good location for eagles because we found the remains of an old nest at the site. We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for the past five years, and it’s wonderful that our efforts have paid off like this.

“As golden eagles may use their nesting sites for generations, we’re hoping they are back for the long-term.”

Golden eagles – regarded by many people as Scotland’s national bird – are regularly seen over Dundreggan, but until now there has been no sign of them nesting or setting up a territory.

The golden eagle is the UK’s second-largest bird of prey, after the white-tailed eagle. It is native to Britain, but centuries of persecution saw it driven into extinction in England and Wales by the mid-1800s.

Dundreggan is home to over 4,000 plant and animal species – including some never recorded in the UK before or once feared extinct in Scotland. It is likely that a marked rise in black grouse numbers as habitats has helped the eagles in their breeding attempt, as these are favourite prey for eagles.

Image Credit: Tony Hisgett

Trees For Life

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 

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