Wildlife cameraman supports call for golden eagle to become Scotland’s national bird.

Wildlife cameraman and natural history presenter Gordon Buchanan will appear at the Holyrood Petitions Committee tomorrow (Tuesday Jan 28) to ask Scottish Parliament to support a RSPB campaign to formally adopt the golden eagle as Scotland’s national bird.

The campaign calls for the formal adoption of the majestic golden eagle as a new national symbol. placing it alongside the lion rampant, the Saltire and the Scottish thistle as emblems of the country.

The petition is the 1,500th that the committee will have heard since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.
Golden Eagles are already hailed as a totem of wild Scotland, used on company logos, place names and ancient burial sites, and recently voted the nation’s favourite animal in a year-long poll run by the government conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage and the tourism agency VisitScotland.

In the vote for the ‘Big 5’ (golden eagle, red squirrel, red deer, harbour seal and otter), the golden eagle secured an overwhelming 40% of the vote, double that of the red squirrel, which was the second most popular contender.
The Petitions Committee evidence session comes in the same week that Parliament has welcomed news that the Scots pine is to be designated as Scotland’s national tree after a public consultation by the Forestry Commission revealed considerable public support. The issue was instigated by a member of the public who also lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament.

There are currently just 431 pairs of golden eagles in the whole of Scotland. Owing to centuries of persecution, it has been almost entirely confined to the more remote areas of the country, such as the mountains and glens of the west coast and on the Western Isles.

Its restricted range and tendency to favour the more remote and dramatic areas has made it become a coveted sight for any visitor who appreciates Scotland’s magnificent wildlife spectacles.

RSPB is pressing for the adoption of the golden eagle as Scotland’s national bird, helping to raise its profile, turn around its fortunes and see it return once again to its former range thus increasing the chances of a sighting for visitors and local people.

Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan said: “The thrill of seeing a golden eagle soaring over a Scottish hillside is an unbeatable experience. For me they symbolise the wildest parts of our country and there is no other contender for Scotland’s national bird. Spending my childhood on Mull meant I grew up with eagles. I’ve been lucky enough to see hundreds since, but each glimpse of this magical bird is still special. The trouble is, golden eagles should and could be more common. Scots and visitors to Scotland shouldn’t hope that an eagle sighting is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; they should expect to see them regularly. That is why I’m backing the RSPB’s campaign to make Scotland’s national bird the golden eagle.”

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “It comes as no surprise that this spectacular species was recently named Scotland’s favourite animal following a public vote. It is a stirring symbol of strength and pride, qualities well befitting to a modern Scotland and its people. 2013 was the Year of Natural Scotland – a period where the Scottish Government celebrated our most impressive natural heritage. What better legacy from that initiative than to officially designate the eagle as Scotland’s national bird and join together for its future conservation? It would formally recognise the place this species has unofficially occupied in our culture for many centuries, and show our commitment and desire to protect and conserve it, and our wider national heritage, for generations to come.”

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