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The eagles have landed: widowed white-tailed eagle finds new partner in Ireland

A white-tailed eagle, similar to the one in Ireland.
A white-tailed eagle, similar to the one in Ireland. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Scott Reid
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A reintroduction programme saw the first white-tailed eagles hatched in Ireland for more than 100 years.

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A male white-tailed eagle who had been living alone for four years after his partner died from avian flu has met a new partner - and the pair now have two new chicks. 

The male eagle was released in 2008 by Ireland's National Parks and Wildlife Service as part of a programme to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle to the Emerald Isle. 

He had previously partnered with another eagle and they produced chicks - the first hatching and fledgling in the country for 110 years.

However, after she died, the male eagle lived alone in East Clare for the past four years until he found his new partner.

Eamonn Meskell, who heads up the National Parks and Wildlife Service White Tailed Eagle Reintroduction project, said: "Of course the fact that he has now found and bred with a new partner is significant to our project but we’re also delighted to see this eagle that we know well make a new bond and start a new family.

“A story like this really brings our reintroduction programme to life, as it helps people to learn about eagle breeding behaviour and the fragility of our reintroduction efforts, all told through the story of a widowed eagle. For our project, the appearance of any new chick is a milestone and shows that the continuation of the project is proving successful.”

There was further good news for the service as eagle-eyed volunteers in another site nearby spotted three chicks which have been reared by one of the male eagle's offspring from his previous partner. 

This female eagle has so far reared 10 chicks which are spread around the island of Ireland, some of whom have also been forming pairs. 

Mr Meskill added: “It is also incredible that one of his offspring is now herself rearing three chicks. This is a very rare occurrence, as a very small minority of nest sites - in Ireland, Norway or anywhere else - have more than two chicks on nest.”

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