The White-tailed Eagle is one of the largest diurnal birds of prey in Europe. An adult bird measures between 70 and 100 cm in length, with a wingspan of 190-250 cm. Its weight varies from around 4 kg for the male to 6 kg for the female, the male being smaller than the female (sexual dimorphism). The adult can be recognized by its all-white tail, beige head, straw-yellow beak and legs.
It mainly feeds on fish (live or dead), but it can sometimes consume birds (ducks, seagulls) or even mammals. When resources are more difficult to find, it is opportunistic: it can feed on carrion and does not hesitate to steal the prey of other predators (such as gulls, cormorants or otters).
Since January 2022, the PAL Nature Foundation has supported the Parc des Aigles du Léman, which has been investing for several years to reintroduce the largest eagle in Europe to the Lake Geneva basin and the Haut Rhône.
A shy return
In mainland France, the White-tailed Eagle nested for the last time in the Ripaille forest in Thonon les Bains in 1892! In 2011 a couple of White-tailed Eagles came to settle naturally in Lorraine and successively raised their broods. Since then, 3 other pairs will nest in 2018 and 2020 in France. This scattered return of eagles to French soil shows the extreme fragility of this population. A reintroduction program aimed at strengthening the latter, but also at conquering new territories, is quickly becoming a necessary action for the long-term return of the species to French soil.
2022-2030: The reintroduction program
Since 2022, the Bald Eagle reintroduction program in France has taken place on the Aigles du Léman site.
6 birds will first be reintroduced to test all elements of the program. If all goes well, 80 birds will then be released in the Lake Geneva basin. The objective is to recreate a population of 3-4 pairs in the Lake Geneva basin and to begin the colonization of the Haut Rhône, a region targeted as a priority by the National Action Plan.
Sources: IUCN Redlist; The Eagles of Lake Geneva (website)
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