After being wiped out in Britain in 1916, white-tailed sea eagles have made an amazing recovery - with a little help from some humans.

The last British sea eagle was shot in 1916 and the species disappeared from the wild for over 50 years.

It wasn't until 1975 that the first formal reintroduction was carried out, with a total of 140 birds returned to the wild over the course of 20 years.

These birds have gone on to establish a population of over 80 breeding pairs on the west coast of Scotland.

A project started in 2007 aims to replicate this success in west Scotland - where white-tailed eagles haven't bred for 200 years.

This saw eaglets collected from nests in Norway before being flown to Scotland and released into the wild as juveniles.

To date 86 birds have been released and will all be carefully monitored through radio-tracking and public sightings.

Wildlife photographer Peter Cairns recorded the reintroduction of some of the sea eagles while taking part in the 2020Vision project.

This initiative saw 20 photographers spend 20 months in the field documenting 20 key habitats in Britain to show just how vital they are.

The sea eagle, or white-tailed eagle, is Europe's biggest bird of prey and is the fourth largest eagle in the world.

An adult female is significantly larger than the male and has a wingspan of around 2.5m.

Rhian Evans, the RSPB's Sea Eagle Project Officer, said: 'We owe a great deal to the volunteers, farmers, landowners, partners and members of the public who have helped us reach this important stage of the reintroduction.'

The project's backers, who also include Scottish Natural Heritage, and Forestry Commission Scotland, are hoping number will grow as more and more of the released birds reach sexual maturity.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said: 'The return of sea eagles to the skies of Scotland's east coast marks an important step in ensuring we now have a viable population of these magnificent birds.

'As well as fulfilling a role in our ecosystems, the birds are an important feature for our growing nature-based tourism industry.'

Throughout the 19th Century the species was poisoned and shot by gamekeepers because they were considered to be a threat to livestock and gamebirds.


The sea eagle is a historic animal in Scotland.

At the Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney the remains of at least eight white-tailed eagles were found in the 3000 year-old tomb.

Experts belive the animals may have symbolised the tribe and so were buried with the dead; or perhaps they believed that the eagle carried the soul of the dead into the next world.

It is also known that some ancient peoples in Scotland left their dead to be eaten by birds of prey before burying the bones.

Responses to "The return of the sea eagle: Researchers say once extinct bird is now thriving on Scottish coast (Photos)"

  1. Phoenix says:

    Good for you! I just hope your beautiful eagles don't one day suffer the same fate that so many of our re-introduced wolves are dealing with thanks to greed and stupidity.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is a great thing! Too many animals are becoming extinct...we need to bring them back if possible. Thank you for all you do to reintroduce these birds to the world. =))

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why do farmers, landowners and people support the reintroduction of eagles and not wolves? they are also a predator capable of endangering livestock b. but they dun do they? as do wolves, so why can't they help the wolves too? I just do not understand humans one bit...

  4. Anonymous says:

    If I may report a sighting;
    In 2007 , august , I traveled to the top of Scotland , the very top! , overlooking Mucka Flugga, Scotland. [pix can be found in my FB photos].
    While there I saw an eagle flying, I am quite familiar with spotting Eagles , rather than other large predatory birds. During my honoring the wonderfull gift of seeing a differant Eagle than I am used to , it "let go" of a tail feather. Floating down to me , I claimed as a gift.
    I send this message , so you may know , they are also in the North of Scotland . Thank you so much for your sucessfull endeavors. It will not be forgoton .
    Chris Nakemo Wren [ please feel free to look for the pix in FaceBook
    , then you can see the feather]

  5. Tamara Sorenson says:

    AWESOME!!! Thank You all for the labour of Love being carried out for the Eagles and our Mother Earth!!!!!

  6. Morgana says:

    I hope this time people will respect this beautifull bird and let them fly high and safe.

  7. Morgana says:

    Thank you again for so interesting and documentary stories.

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