Thursday, 22 August 2013

Introducing: Sally and Heather!

Sally (left) and Heather (right) on the day they were fitted with satellite trackers

Sally and her younger sister Heather were born on the heathery slopes by Mount Eagle in Kerry in the summer of 2013.

Their parents were seen sky dancing (spectacular courtship displays) in the spring and soon after they settled on a nest location (Hen Harriers choose new nest locations every year) that they felt was safe to rear their young and was surrounded by good heather moorland, young forestry and farmland to find food for their young.

The father, a striking looking silver male was a very good hunter and the mother, a courageous brown bird was very protective of the nest if any predators like foxes or crows came to the nest. The father would let the mother know when he had food and she would rise from the nest where she minded her eggs and young, to meet him in the air and acrobatically flip upside down so that he could drop the food into her talons. She would then take the food back to the nest and piece by piece feed it to the young chicks who included Sally and Heather.

Sally and Heather as young chicks in the nest

Sally and Heather grew strong with the help of their parents and just before they left the nest, they were each fitted with a lighweight satellite tracker so that we could follow their lives and find out what is happening to our Hen Harriers when they are trying to make their way in Ireland. The information derived will be directly useful in informing conservation efforts and will surely provide some interesting facts that we do not already know about the individual lives of two sisters.

Over the coming weeks, months and hopefully years, you can follow the progress of Sally and Heather as they make their ways in life. Hang on for the ride!

Sally with the antenna of the small satellite tag showing on her back

Sally and Heather are named by the local school children of Duhallow after the the two most important features on the landscape for Hen Harriers - Willow trees (Sally trees) and Moorland (Heather).


  1. Great news! Will be following with interest. Out of curiosity, what became of the third chick in the photo? Starvation or predation or something else? Presuming it didn't make it as it wasn't named by the kids.

  2. Hi Blanaid, it was just the two chicks that we fitted with tags in this nest. Hopefully the other chicks that weren't tagged are doing well. We are lucky to gain an insight into the lives of two chicks, but each and every bird has their own individual path to follow in life.