Page last updated at 00:47 GMT, Saturday, 15 August 2009 01:47 UK

'Oldest' golden eagle found dead

Golden Eagle
The Eagle was tagged by RSPB Scotland 22 years ago

The oldest known wild golden eagle in Britain has been found dead on the isle of Jura, it has been confirmed.

The bird, ringed on Mull in 1987 when it was still a chick and too young to be sexed, was 22 years old.

Its body was found on North Jura earlier this year by a member of the public who reported it to the RSPB.

The RSPB Scotland said it believed the bird had died of natural causes having lived its life in "relative peace". The previous oldest wild eagle was 16.

In captivity golden eagles have been known to live for more than 40 years.

RSPB Scotland's Roger Broad, who ringed the eagle, said: "It's actually very nice to hear about a bird that's had such a long life, and to be told about it in a situation like this when there are absolutely no suspicious circumstances whatsoever.

It's great to think that this bird lived out its days in relative peace, and still almost in sight of the nest it hatched out of on Mull all those years ago
Dave Sexton
RSPB Scotland

"By the time we got to the eagle, it was too far gone to do a post-mortem, but there are no records of bird of prey persecution on Jura, and there were no signs of this being anything other than a natural death from old age."

The eagle is thought to have been part of a breeding pair on Jura.

It is hoped the bird's partner will now pair up with another single golden eagle passing through its territory.

RSPB Scotland Mull Officer, Dave Sexton, said: "It's amazing to think how long eagles can survive if left to get on with things in the wild.

"Their longevity is balanced by the fact that they only have one or two chicks each year, and don't start breeding until they're five years old.

Manx shearwater

"That's why the population of any eagle can suffer so dramatically when the adult birds are taken out by poisoning or other unnatural means.

"But it's great to think that this bird lived out its days in relative peace, and still almost in sight of the nest it hatched out of on Mull all those years ago."

The find comes in a year when the UK's oldest white-tailed eagles, both nearly 30, successful hatched and raised two chicks on Mull.

The oldest wild bird in Britain was a Manx shearwater, which in 2007 was recorded as 50 years old.



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