EDINBURGH, Scotland (UPI) — Red kites, birds of prey with a 6-foot wingspan, are now doing well in Scotland with more than 200 breeding pairs reported last year, scientists say.
A report was to be made Saturday on the successful reintroduction program at the Scottish Birdwatchers’ Conference in Edinburgh, The Scotsman said.
The conference will be getting bad news about wading birds, with reports that the number of curlews and lapwings is down about 50 percent.
Jenny Lennon, who is in charge of the red kite program for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland, said 214 breeding pairs were counted in 2012. She said there were 19 around Aberdeen, where more than 100 birds were released between 2007 and 2009, and the first one in Dumfries and Galloway.
The reintroduction program began in 1989 with birds from Scandinavia released north of Inverness. A companion program in the Chiltern Hills in southeast England has also been successful.
“Monitoring red kite nests is always interesting given their predisposition to decorate their nest with unusual items,” Lennon said. “This summer we have found a soft toy raccoon, mouse trap, toy lemur, tennis balls, toy dog, and a toy rat. This is all in addition to the usual gloves, wool and socks.”
The kites have become a tourist attraction in some areas where farmers have set up feeding stations.