Extinct in Ireland, September 28th – the golden eagle

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One of the most celebrated re-introductions of recent years has been the Golden Eagle. This has been one of three species – along with the Red Kite and the White-Tailed Sea Eagle – to be reintroduced by the Golden Eagle Trust along with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Golden Eagle re-introduction in Glenveagh National Park has led to a fragile but present population there:

The small Golden Eagle population in County Donegal had a memorable breeding season in 2017, as three separate pairs fledged a single chick each. For the first time in a century, an Irish-bred Golden Eagle has bred successfully. The mother was born in Glenveagh and has paired with a Scottish – bred eagle, released as part of the reintroduction.

Golden Eagle pairs can now be found in the Derryveagh and Bluestack Mountains and the Glencolumbkille and Inishowen Peninsulas. Whilst this fragile population is still confined to County Donegal, the addition of three healthy juveniles to a small population total of 20-25 birds, is a very welcome boost.

On YouTube, the best video I could find under “Golden Eagle Donegal” was this:

Of course, in order to require re-introduction, the Golden Eagle first had to be exterminated.

The Golden Eagle became extinct in Ireland about 1910-1912, having been relatively common and widespread in the early 19th century (Hutchinson 1989 and DArcy 1999). Ussher and Warren wrote in 1900 that, “within the last fifty years gamekeepers and shepherds have so successfully employed gun, trap and poison, while the eggs and young have been so systematically taken, that this noble species has been nearly swept off the land”. (Whilde 1993).

Despite its prominence in human culture, religion and art, the Golden Eagle has suffered persecution at the hands of man; in Donegal, indeed, there have been many incidents of poisoning and the fragility of the population needs to be emphasised.

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