Golden Eagles Hold Their Own in Scotland
News from the BTO
12th June 1996
A definitive paper in the latest issue of Bird Study seems to show that Golden Eagles have suffered a tiny decrease over ten years. The survey reported 422 breeding pairs in 1992 compared with 424 in 1982-93. This may seem satisfactory but Rhys Green, who wrote the report on behalf of the Scottish Raptor Study Groups, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Scottish Natural Heritage, is not so sure.
Changes by region varied from a decrease of 27% (from 22 to 16 pairs) to an increase of 28% (from 53 to 68 pairs). The mean number of young fledged per pair was less than a third (0.32) compared with more than half (0.52) in 1982. In fact productivity was lower in seven out of the eight regions. Productivity was well correlated with the change in number of breeding pairs in the region between 1982-83 and 1992.
Densities were highest in the Hebrides and in the Western Highlands. Decreases over the last ten years may be attributable to increased afforestation. to a decline in the amount of carrion available and to increases in illegal persecution. However Rhys Green makes the point that it is essential that long-term monitoring of these magnificent birds should continue.