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Allan Mee via Golden Eagle Trust

The first white-tailed eagle chicks of the year have been born

The birds hatched in Clare and Glengarriff over the past four weeks.

IN THE PAST month, the first white-tailed eagle chicks of the year were born.

The chicks hatched in nests at Mountshannon in county Clare in the past two weeks and Glengarriff in west Cork at the end of April.

The arrivals are the outcome of a reintroduction programme which has seen some successes since 100 young Norweigian eagles were released in 2007.

Currently, there are 14 pairs of eagles holding territories across four counties. At least seven pairs are nesting and laying eggs.

Other pairs in Kerry and Galway are expected to hatch shortly.

The eagles in Clare made history last year when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in more than 100 years.

“This is a very promising development,” remarked Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

“I, along with many others, was shocked at the killing earlier this year of one of the two white-tailed eagle chicks born last year.

“That was a dark day for this ambitious project to reintroduce these magnificent birds of prey into Ireland.

The news that at least seven pairs are now nesting and laying eggs is a great development for this project. The breeding pair at Mountshannon gives the general public an opportunity to see one of the most spectacular birds in this country at close quarters.

“They have proven to be a benefit to the local economy and I am confident that the continued presence of the Eagles will lead to a growth in sustainable tourism in the area.

While the parent eagles started their Irish lives in Killarney National Park, I believe  that now they belong to the people of the east Clare, who have already proven themselves to be worthy custodians and caretakers.

“The amount of voluntary monitoring, observation and recording of the breeding pairs activities is to be commended for this has helped in broadening our knowledge of these birds and our understanding of their needs for future success.

I am delighted that the first chicks of 2014 have hatched and I hope these young eagles will have a long life in our skies.

Dr Allan Mee, project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust, says the viability of the project depends on these chicks going on to breed themselves in Ireland.

“Each step brings us closer to that goal,” he added.

He also warned people in the area that it is an offence to disturb the eagles in their nest. Such disturbance could result in the birds leaving small chicks unguarded.

However, the birds can be watched from the pier at Mountshannon.

Of the 100 birds released in 2007, 29 have been found dead – mostly through illegal poisoning. Gardaí are still investigating the shooting of one of the birds that fledged from its Clare nest last year.

Read: One of the first white-tailed eagles bred in Ireland found dead after being shot

Related: White-tailed Eagles make Clare their new nest after 100-year wait

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