What we do
Kite E from 2009's Northern Ireland release
Image: The RSPB
Over the past 200 years the UK red kite population dwindled, largely due to human persecution, until only a small population remained in mid-Wales. Since 1989 a number of reintroduction projects have begun to restore the red kite to its former range across the UK. These have successfully led to the re-establishment of breeding populations in these release areas.
During this time the Welsh population has naturally recovered and was estimated at around 900 pairs in 2009.
It is highly likely the red kite occurred as a breeding bird in Northern Ireland until the mid-18th century. Due to the momentum and experience gained from recent successful reintroductions in England and Scotland, the stage was set for this large-scale species recovery project to be rolled out into Ireland in 2007 as it was unlikely that red kites would naturally re-colonise this island in the near future.
Phase 2 of Northern Ireland Red Kites came to an end in June 2014. Although no further releases are planned, we will continue to closely monitor the progress of the red kite population amid the ongoing threat of wildlife crime and we’ll keep working to raise awareness of these wonderful birds.
The RSPB also aims to raise the public’s knowledge and awareness of these majestic birds of prey, which will include working with stakeholders, landowners and the general public in the area.
The Adopt a Red Kite Scheme has now closed to new members but individuals and organisations that are already supporting one of these majestic birds will continue to receive updates. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02890 491547.
If you see a red kite we would be interested to hear about your sighting. Sightings where wing tags are read are most helpful to the project, however, even sightings of untagged kites or where the tags could not be read are also extremely useful.
Red kites in release pens in Northern Ireland
Volunteer with red kite chick
Close-up of Red 60
Red kite chick being ringed
Northern Ireland Red Kites is the first species reintroduction in Northern Ireland and part of an all-Ireland project to bring back these wonderful birds to our shores. Project partners are the Welsh Kite Trust, the Golden Eagle Trust and the RSPB.
Phase 1 of the project was funded by Ulster Wildlife Trust's Landfill Communities Fund grant scheme provided by Down, Newry and Mourne, and Banbridge Councils and Quinn Environmental Ltd, Ernest Kleinwort Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Heritage Council and Northern Ireland Environment Agency (formerly Environment and Heritage Service), an Agency within the Department of the Environment.
Phase 2 of the project has been made possible thanks to continued assistance from Newry & Mourne, Down and Banbridge Councils through the Ulster Wildlife Trusts Landfill Community Fund and additional support has been received from NI Electricity and RES Ltd.