South Uist has its very own Spring watch at RSPB Loch Druidibeg this month after a pair of white-tailed eagles have been successful in raising at least one chick.
The team at RSPB Outer Hebrides will be giving people the opportunity to view the eagle nest from a distance through a series of viewing evenings.
Starting on Thursday this week (26 May) and every Thursday evening between 7-9pm, visitors to the reserve will get the chance to see the how the white-tailed eagle parents get on with raising their chick.
Claire Bird, RSPB warden for Loch Druidibeg, said: “We are delighted that the white-tailed eagles have been successful this year at the reserve and that we can show locals and visitors our latest residents. If anyone is interested in learning more about white-tailed eagles, then this is a really good time to watch both the parents and find out how the chick is getting on.”
Visitors will be able to view the nest through a telescope to maintain a distance from the nest which will be set up at the reserve during the viewing evenings.
White-tailed eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey species. They are long-lived birds, with an average adult life span of 21 years, but some reach 25 years or more. The oldest recorded individual was thought to be about 32 years old. A pair of white-tailed eagles will bond and usually stay together life-long. The bond typically happens when the adults are around five years old and our pair have chosen Loch Druidibeg as their home. The area is the perfect habitat for them, with good nesting location and a variety of food available.
Both birds build the nest from twigs and branches, lined with rushes and grasses. The female lays two or three dull white eggs 2-5 days apart in March or April, incubation starts with the first egg for 38 days per egg. She does most of the incubation. The eggs hatch a few days apart. Although the chicks are quite tolerant of each other, there is competition between them, the older one being dominant. The chick at Loch Druidibeg is roughly three weeks old.
The female does most of the brooding and direct feeding of the young, but the male takes over now and then. He provides the female and the young with all food for the first three weeks, after which the female joins in on the hunting. The young feed themselves in the nest when they are 5-6 weeks old. They fledge at 10-11 weeks and remain close to the nest, dependent on their parents, for a further 5-6 weeks. Our viewing evenings will be during this period and with staff on hand to provide more information and answer any questions anyone might have.
The photograph above is the copyright of Ian Lawson. It has been released by the RSPB to accompany this article.