Irish Red Kite Project Soars to New Heights.

 Irish Red Kite Project Soars to New Heights –

more than 50 pairs now recorded in Ireland and over 150 young fledged between 2010 and 2015 as excitement builds for monitoring in 2016.


Dr Marc Ruddock, red kite project manager on right

 The 2016 monitoring of red kites in Ireland is well underway with many birds nest building and laying eggs ready for a new breeding season. Over the winter each week more than 60 kites were recorded at the roost in Avoca and it seems timely to review the status of the population in 2015, with an increasing numbers of red kites recorded in Ireland.

During 2015 there were 47 territorial pairs identified in Wicklow. There were 20 successful pairs which fledged 41 young in Wicklow which is considerably increased from 29 young in 2014. Elsewhere two pairs were recorded in Co. Wexford and four pairs north of the Liffey in Co. Dublin – Co. Meath bringing the national total to 53 pairs in Ireland. One young was recorded to successfully fledge from the north Dublin – Meath population which is a huge milestone for that part of the project.


 This fantastic news confirms first successful breeding in the Fingal project area and the successful fledging of the this one young brings the national total to 151 fledged young since breeding was first confirmed in Ireland during 2010 (in Wicklow). The number of young kites being fledged continues to grow and the population growth is encouraging for the project team. It is hoped that 2016 will see more than 50 kites fledged from Irish red kite nests across the country.

Dr Marc Ruddock, red kite project manager, said “The Golden Eagle Trust is buoyant by the successes of the red kite breeding population in 2015 across Ireland and none more so than in the Fingal area where initially we were beset by the losses of nine kites in the first few months of this project in 2011 and early 2012”.

Dr Ruddock also thanked the support of the NPWS and both the state and regional veterinary laboratories for their post mortem analysis at that time, and on an on-going basis in allowing us to identify that some of these kites contained second generation rodenticides. Since those losses the industry and stakeholders of the rodenticide industry have created an exemplary campaign in the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRRU; This campaign has helped raise awareness and understanding of these important issues across Ireland and continues to gain considerable momentum and outreach in Ireland for the sustained commitment to wise and safe use of rodenticides.

The total minimum number of chicks which are now known to have fledged in Ireland between 2010 and 2015 is 151. Not all of these have been tagged but the 100th nestling was tagged in Co. Wicklow during 2015 which was a humbling moment for the tagging team last year in 2015.


 Dr Marc Ruddock, red kite project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust said “It felt rewarding to know that more than 100 chicks have now been tagged as part of the project monitoring and myself along with the ringing team that day Mark Lewis, Paul Kavanagh, Brendan Byrne, Robert Kelly and Robert Vaughan actually all fell silent once we realised there was a brood of three”.

Marc continued “We had tagged 97 chicks up to that point and we knew there was a chance we might hit 100 at a nest not far from the new M11 motorway – although we also knew it might have contained a brood of 1 or 2 so we might have to wait to the subsequent nests to get the 100th bird tagged. When Mark Lewis, the project tree-climber, first confirmed the nest contents and he shouted down “it’s a three” – and I actually felt a bit choked up knowing we had got the 100”. All three chicks were safely lowered to the ground and the team tagged and returned these to their nest to hopefully fledge and prosper. All three chicks have been subsequently sighted.

Red Kite-1

Regrettably there were also been seven dead birds recorded in Wicklow during 2015. Two of these were found to contain toxins carbufuran and alphachloralose and two contained second generation rodenticides. Three young birds fledged in 2015 were amongst these dead birds and one which unfortunately never made it more than 50m from the nest after fledging. The public are urged to report illegal use of poisoned meat baits or suspicious acts to the authorities. Such baits are more likely to kill scavenging birds such as kites and buzzards and poses a risk to pets, humans and livestock.

Despite, these losses, the population of red kites is continuing to increase across Ireland which remains positive for the overall project. There is a vast landowner and community support across the project areas the Golden Eagle Trust continue to explore ways to capitalise further on this and maximise benefits to and from red kites. The opening of the Red Kite Trail by the community in Avoca has undoubtedly increased awareness and use of the area by tourists and many hotels, B&Bs and businesses reporting people coming to Wicklow to see and enjoy the red kites which are present all year round.

The project team are appealing for anyone with kite sightings or confirmation that they may be nesting this year, 2016, to get in touch with project manager Dr Marc Ruddock on 

Editors Notes

The Irish Red Kite Reintroduction Project is part of an All-Ireland effort to restore red kites. These attractive birds were extinct in Ireland for about 200 years. The Golden Eagle Trust (, NPWS and Welsh Kite Trust ( ) have collected (from Wales) and released 120 red kites in Co. Wicklow between 2007 and 2011 and 40 red kites in Co. Dublin in 2011. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) released 80 red kites in Co. Down between 2008 and 2010. The Irish Red Kite Re-introduction is a partnership project with the Welsh Kite Trust and National Parks & Wildlife Service.

The Golden Eagle Trust was founded in 1999 as a registered charity dedicated to the conservation and restoration of Ireland’s native birds and their habitats, in particular declining, threatened, and extinct species. The Golden Eagle Trust manages reintroduction programmes for Golden Eagles in, Co. Donegal, White-tailed Eagles in Co. Kerry and Red Kites in Wicklow & Dublin in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The Golden Eagle Trust’s main aim is to restore, enhance and maintain threatened and extinct native Irish bird species and their habitats through (i) Creative and pro-active conservation management (ii) Practical conservation research & (iii) Imaginative education and public awareness


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