White-tailed-eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, bird looking out of carrying case, part of the species reintroduction programme, Scotland

Threats and conservation

White-tailed eagles continue to be deliberately killed and their nests targeted by egg-collectors, which for such a small population can be critical.

Protection efforts

The birds fall victim of both deliberate persecution of the eagles themselves and as incidental victims of poisons illegally set for foxes and crows. Young birds, wandering before establishing their own territories, are particularly hard hit.

Protection and surveillance of the nest sites is of extreme importance to prevent illegal disturbance or nest robbing. All nest sites are a closely guarded secret to minimise the danger. The population is so small that any nest losses would have a direct impact on the population.

Because the birds range over extensive areas, it is difficult to protect their habitat. This is best done through general land use policies for coastal areas which include a provision for the birds and ensure that key feeding and nesting requirements are not compromised.

While most birds do not threaten livestock, individual pairs may present a local problem in some cases. There are measures in place to counteract this and conservation officers liaise closely with farmers and land-owners on issues relating to eagles and livestock. Scottish Natural Heritage offers positive management schemes to farmers with eagles on their land on Mull and parts of Skye.

White-tailed eagle Haliaeetus albicilla. Photo by Ian McCarthy.