Sixteen white-tailed sea eaglets were flown into Scotland and set up in purpose-built aviaries over the weekend, in a bid to help reintroduce the birds to the country.
The young eagles were brought over from Norway on Friday (June 24) and are now being reared in a secret location in Fife until they are strong enough to fledge.
The birds are the latest additions to the East Scotland haul but the care and effort invested has achieved remarkable results – the white-tailed sea eagle is now a frequent and glorious sight in Sea Eagle reintroduction programme, a project which began in 2007 between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.
The birds, known as “flying barn doors” because of their massive eight-foot wing span, are Britain's largest bird of prey. The latest batch of young chicks were welcomed to the country by Norwegian Consul Mona Røhne and Environment & Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson.
Stevenson said: “The reintroduction project has been a a long haul but the care and effort invested has achieved remarkable results – the white-tailed sea eagle is now a frequent and glorious sight in Scotland’s skies.
”Undoubtedly a major draw – both for local and visiting wildlife watchers – the return of these magnificent birds to take their place in Scotland’s rich biodiversity, has also provided a significant tourist attraction.”
- Sea eagle returned to the wild after struggling to survive
- Video: watch sea eagles being released into the wild
- Police investigate sea eagle poisoning
White tailed eagles were only reintroduced to Scotland in 1975, after being hunted to extinction. However recent statistics have shown that there is now a record breaking 52 breeding pairs 200 sea eagles in Scotland.
It is hoped that the addition of these new Norwegian sea eagle chicks will help boost the numbers even more.
Susan Davies, director of policy and advice for Scottish National Heritage (SNH), said: "It’s quite an achievement to see such a re-introduction success with over 50 breeding pairs and 200 sea eagles now in Scotland, and more eaglets bolstering these numbers.
”It's also essential that conservationists continue to work with landowners and farmers into the future to ensure that this spectacular bird's future is secured for future generations."
Last year police investigated the death of a white-tailed sea eagle that was illegally poisoned before being found dead on an estate in Angus.
Video courtesy of the Scottish Government film unit/RSPB Scotland.