By Stephen Moss, Naturalist
Britain's biggest bird of prey was nearly knocked out of our skies for good almost a century ago.
The sight of the white-tailed eagle's impressive two-metre wingspan in our skies was eventually saved by a reintroduction scheme in Scotland.
But, even as its recovery is being hailed as a conservation success, the mighty bird may be under threat once again.
The population remains small, vulnerable and limited to just one area of the country. Will the eagles ever spread their giant wings beyond Scotland?
Widespread throughout Great Britain and Ireland since the Dark Ages, it is estimated that up to 90% of the birds were lost by the time of the Industrial Revolution.
|Photo credit: RSPB|
Destruction of habitat and human persecution drove the species to extinction in the early part of the 20th Century, when the last pair nested on Skye.
The bird's reintroduction to Scotland, which began almost half a century ago with an attempt to put the species back on Fair Isle has, on the face of it, been a huge success.
A recent report by the RSPB, 'Wildlife at Work', estimated that 'eagle tourism' contributes up to £5 million to the economy of the island of Mull each year.
It also brings less tangible, but equally important, benefits.