Wing tags

Keeping Tabs on Mull’s Eagles

New Age Eagles of the 21st Century

Plastic wing tags, colour coded to represent the year of tagging and individually marked with a letter or symbol were previously fitted to the wings of young eaglets on Mull. As the local population of White-tailed Eagles increased it became more difficult to tag all the accessible young eaglets and less important to individually identify each bird. Critics thought that the fitting of large, coloured wing tags rather invasive and new ways of marking young were investigated. Young birds are now fitted with a coloured leg ring that denotes the year that the eagle fledged and an inscription that identifies the individual bird.

The wing tagging programme ceased at the end of the 2007 ‘eagle season’ and, since then, several chicks, from nests on the Isle of Mull have been fitted with radio satellite tags, in order that greater and more up-to-date information can be processed regarding the whereabouts of these birds. Scientists and members of the public were able to follow their progress as they wandered around the countryside. These satellites are, sadly, no longer transmitting data and the whereabouts of the tagged individuals is unknown. White-tailed Eagles, as part of the other re-introduction programmes in Eastern Scotland and Ireland continued to be wing-tagged and individuals from these populations have been seen on the Isle of Mull. This is good news for the future well-being of Mull’s White-tailed Eagle population, as it will help ensure the genetic purity of the island’s birds.

The immature bird (White, ‘F’), pictured above, was photographed at Loch Scridain, Mull in early January 2010. It is a young male that fledged from a nest on the island of Jura, south of Mull, in 2007. This individual will now (if still alive) be sexually mature and looking to find a suitable breeding territory. Does anyone know the whereabouts of ‘White, ‘F”?