A pair of golden eagles have successfully bred at an estate in the Scottish Highlands for the first time in 40 years, thanks to the help of a man-made nest.
The eagles — who are the second largest native bird of prey in the UK — took up residence at an artificial nest made by renowned conservationist, Roy Dennis MBE, at the 10,000-acre Dundreggan rewilding estate five years ago.
Using branches from native pines and birch trees, Roy and his team were able to cleverly mimic a real-life eyrie t0 help keep a close eye on the birds. While golden eagles prefer to build their own nests in remote and inaccessible places, it seems this eagle pair have made the handmade nest their home.
The young chick, named Tom, flew from the nest for the first time last week, marking the pioneering project as a success.
"This is a rewilding success story beyond our wildest dreams," Doug Gilbert, who manages the estate, said in the announcement. "I've been checking the eyrie regularly since we built it in 2015, hoping to see evidence that the eagles had returned – and now they have. As golden eagles may use their nesting sites for generations, we're hoping they are back for the long-term.
"Four decades without golden eagles breeding or establishing themselves in this part of our wild and beautiful Highland glen have been four decades too long. 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."
Highland Raptor Study Group member and golden eagle expert, Stuart Benn, added: "This is terrific news – the first time golden eagles have definitely bred at Dundreggan since 1980. Eagles are undergoing a marked expansion in the Highlands just now, recolonising ground they haven't been on for many years and even colonising some completely new areas."
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