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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
Rare bird numbers soar
Red kite
Red kites are steadily increasing in Scotland
Experts have recorded more than 100 red kite chicks in Scotland for the first time since the early 19th century.

The milestone is being heralded as a success for a project which set out to re-establish one of Scotland's rarest birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland have been working together since 1989 to reintroduce red kites in three areas.

The spectacular birds of prey, with their distinctive forked tails, were hunted to extinction in Scotland in 1870.

This year the chicks have fledged from 35 breeding pairs in north Scotland, 18 in central Scotland and four in Dumfries and Galloway.

RSPB Scotland's Duncan Orr-Ewing said: "The breeding success of the reintroduced birds suggest that this species could soon be a familiar sight to many communities across Scotland."

Bird poisoning

However, comparisons with a scheme in England has shown that persecution remains a problem north of the border.

Although breeding rates among red kites released in the Chilterns are similar to Scotland, the population is higher in the south.

RSPB Scotland research has shown that more than a third of the birds in the north of Scotland were poisoned between 1989 and 2001.


SEE ALSO:
Anger over red kite deaths
29 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Red kite steals the show
03 Apr 03  |  England
Rat poison threatens birds of prey
17 Feb 03  |  England
Poisoning kills third of red kites
03 Jan 02  |  Scotland


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