Star attractions once more in Irish skies
Published 15/02/2010 | 05:00
AFTER an absence of more than 100 years, golden eagles can once again be spotted soaring in the north-west.
The distinctive birds, released in Glenveagh National Park, Co Donegal, boast a wingspan of up to six foot.
Once widespread in Europe, they are still found in Scandinavia, Scotland, Spain and south-eastern Europe.
In Ireland, they eat dead sheep, dead deer, hares, rabbits, foxes, badgers, crows, ravens and grouse.
Golden eagles can live 25-30 years and take up to five years to mature and breed.
- WHITE-TAILED EAGLE
White-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, were wiped out in Ireland by the beginning of the 20th century due to shooting and poisoned baits.
Since their reintroduction, the heavy, broad-winged birds have attracted the attention of tourists and conservationists in Co Kerry.
They are opportunistic scavengers, feeding on dead animals or remains, but also dining on fish, small mammals and birds.
- RED KITE
Deforestation trapping and shooting drove the red kite to extinction in Ireland by the end of the 18th century.
An old Irish name for the species -- Preachan Ceirteach -- translates as the 'cloth kite'. It refers to their habit of decorating their nests with cloths and rags.
Red kites have a distinctive, deeply forked tail. They commonly feed on rabbits, rats and mice.