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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May 2005, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Eagle lays first egg since 1912
Golden eagle
Golden Eagle chicks are imported from Scotland
Two golden eagles have nested in the wilds of County Donegal and laid an egg for the first time since 1912.

The authorities at Glenveagh National Park in the north-west of Ireland are celebrating after the birds of prey began breeding there.

The success is the result of a project which began in the park in 2001.

It followed a government-backed initiative to reintroduce the Golden Eagles, which was started the previous year.

The breed was wiped out in Ireland through habitat changes and widespread hunting.

Killing the birds was popular among shooting parties in the 19th century and their eggs were prized.

Golden Eagle chicks are imported from Scotland and now number 35 throughout Ireland, especially on the west coast.

Body length: 79-88cm
Wingspan: 190-22cm
Females are much larger than males
Adults are a uniform brown colour
They prefer mountainous, often treeless, habitats
Golden eagles have exceptionally good eyesight
They can remain in the air for hours at a time

Lorcan O'Toole, the project director at Glenveagh, said the breeding pair building their eyrie on a cliff face in County Donegal was "a major step forward".

"As often happens with inexperienced and young breeders the egg failed to hatch," he said.

"This is the first year we have had birds just reaching maturity so we are very pleased they managed to pair up."

He said it was not clear why the pair's egg had not yet hatched.

The female eagle was still sitting on the egg beyond the hatching date and he said they hoped to later retrieve it and analyse what happened.

"We are all looking forward to the day when a Donegal-bred eagle takes to the sky," he said.

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