The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) has attained iconic status on the Isle of Mull, thanks to the determined action of both conservationists and local volunteers keen to see this magnificent raptor once again hunting and soaring over the island’s sea lochs and mountains.
Until the late 19th century, the White-tailed Eagle was a more common sight than the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in parts of North and West Scotland. On account of its enormous size and raucous cries it was a familiar sight (and sound) around its largely coastal domain.
After a prolonged period of persecution during Victorian times, when large numbers of the area’s birds of prey were shot for trophies, poisoned or had their eggs stolen, the White-tailed Eagle was finally exterminated as a British breeding species in 1916.
As a result of a successful re-introduction programme that took place on the neighbouring Inner Hebridean island of Rum between 1975 – 1985, the Isle of Mull has become a fortress of White-tailed Eagle activity, as the new fledgling population of these impressive birds matures and expands.
In 2020, 20 pairs of White-tailed Eagles successfully nested around Mull’s indented coastline, raising a record 18 chicks, attracting thousands of wildlife-friendly tourists, thus generating a very healthy economic return for the island.