Natal/juvenile dispersal in large raptors is a key aspect of population dynamics and conservation, since, for example, natal dispersal is the main mechanism by which a population expands, juvenile raptors use different habitats and areas than adult breeders, and juvenile survival can be an important influence on population abundance. Like many other large raptors, the dispersal behaviour of white-tailed sea eagles is poorly known. The successful reintroduction of this species in western Scotland presents a unique opportunity for the study of dispersal in a restored population. In addition, the study of reintroduced populations allows improved knowledge of processes that may influence the success of further reintroductions.
A proportion of the Scottish reintroduced eagles (and subsequent Scottish-born nestlings) has been wing-tagged and, over the years, re-sighting records of individual eagles have been stored in a database. In collaboration with the Sea Eagle Project Team, our project analysed these data to assess the effectiveness of wing-tagging as a monitoring tool and to describe dispersal, and produced:
Whitfield, D.P., Douse, A., Evans, R.J., Grant, J., Love, J., McLeod, D.R.A., Reid, R. & Wilson, J.D. 2009. Natal and breeding dispersal in a reintroduced population of white-tailed eagles Haliaeetus albicilla. Bird Study 56: 177-187.
Project funding was provided by SNH, with in-kind contributions from Natural Research and RSPB.
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Photo: R. Gilbert