Golden Eagle Introduction
(Photo: Cliff Reddick)
Golden Eagles are one of our top predators meaning that they are at the top of the food chain. Top predators have a very important role in keeping in balance the populations of animals lower in the food chain . Without Eagles, some prey species like rabbits could multiply out of control.
Harris is one of the most important places for Golden Eagles in Europe
Golden Eagles need:
• undisturbed cliffs and crags to nest
• large areas of open ground over which to hunt
• a good food supply
Here on Harris our undisturbed rugged moorland provides an ideal habitat for golden eagles. Even our windy weather may help them as this enables them to hang in the air currents without using much energy whilst they search for food. In the winter eagles feed largely on carrion, dead sheep or deer that haven’t survived the winter weather. On mainland Scotland they would have to share these carcasses with other predators such as foxes but on Harris the eagles have these carcasses to themselves as there are no foxes.
Golden Eagles are a specially protected species
In the past eagles were seen as vermin (pest) because they occasionally take lambs and grouse and other animals that humans also eat. Because of this eagles were shot on most estates in Scotland. However, the Golden Eagles is now protected by law and it is now illegal to kill eagles or to disturb them at their nest sites. Because they are so sensitive to disturbance a special license is now required to approach eagle nests or take photos of eagles at the nest. Unfortunately, eagles are still killed illegally on many grouse shooting estates in Eastern Scotland and this is why eagles are such a rare sight in many parts of Scotland.
by Robin Reid