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Record 550+ white-tailed eagle hatchlings in Finland this year

The noble bird of prey was removed from Finland’s list of endangered species earlier this year.

Merikotka
Image: John Gooday / AOP

Conservationists documented a record number of white-tailed eagle hatchlings in Finland this year as a monitoring team from the environmental NGO WWF counted 558 chicks.

According to WWF the hatchling count may not even reflect the actual number of hatchlings in Finland, since not all chicks have been found. The previous record number of new birds was in 2017, when teams found 502 youngsters.

The organisation said however that the number of nesting birds has not increased in Finland in recent years.

"This means that the record number of chicks this year was due to good nesting conditions," WWF head of white-tailed eagle monitoring Heikki Lokki observed in a statement.

WWF said that every year new nesting grounds are identified in the Gulf of Finland as well as in southern and central Finland.

By contrast there has been no growth in white-tailed eagle populations in coastal and archipelagic areas. In northern Finland the population is stable, while no nests have been recorded in southern Savo or Southern Karelia.

Conservation efforts boost populations

Environmental poisoning decimated white-tailed eagle populations in the 1960s and 1970s, with just four chicks hatching in 1975.

In 1972 WWF established a white-tailed eagle monitoring group that comprised experts and amateur ornithologists in a bid to save the bird of prey.

The 1980s saw a boom in hatchling numbers as winter feeding programmes took off and the use of poisons was prohibited.

Earlier this year the white-tailed eagle was removed from Finland’s list of endangered animals and has since been classified a viable species.

Field work related to white-tailed eagle monitoring and conservation will in future be handled by Sääksisäätiö or the Finnish Osprey Foundation.

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