Sea eagles released at secret location

Fifteen sea eagles are to be released from a secret location in Scotland.

The birds of prey, which have eight-foot wingspans, were being put into the wild in Fife this week.

It is hoped the efforts will lead to the successful reintroduction of white-tailed sea eagles in eastern Scotland.

The eagles, known as "flying barn doors" because of their huge wings, have been collected from nests in Norway and reared in specially constructed aviaries in Fife.

They have been reared under the East Scotland Sea Eagles programme, a five-year partnership between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

It is the second year chicks have been collected from Norway and released into the wild in Scotland.

In 2007, 15 chicks were released and travelled throughout the east of the country.

Claire Smith, sea eagle project officer for RSPB Scotland said: "From the time these chicks were collected in Norway and brought over to Scotland in June, I've watched them grow up and now they're raring to go. I'm really excited to see where they go, and if they'll meet up with last year's birds."

Environment minister Mike Russell said: "This is a very important moment for the birds as they take their first flights into Scottish skies. They will be facing many challenges in the years ahead and like others, I'll be crossing my fingers that they find their way and breed in the future.

"The sea eagle is one of the cornerstones of Scotland's species reestablishment programme and it will be an incredible experience for more people to see these huge birds in their natural environment."

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