Golden Eagle Comeback in Southern Scotland

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

GOLDEN EAGLE [photo credit: THE SCOTTISH BANNER, November AD2022]

“Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high? On the rock it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar.” 

JOB 39:26-29

It’s time for some good news—Golden eagles, thanks to some successfully relocated from the Outer Hebrides, are making a comeback in southern Scotland! Consider this happy report from the online November (AD2022) issue of THE SCOTTISH BANNER:

The pioneering South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has become the first in the UK to successfully translocate free-flying young golden eagles (aged between 6 months and 3 years) to boost a low population of this iconic bird. These new additions bring the total number of golden eagles in the south of Scotland to around 33 – the highest number recorded here in the last three centuries. Taking a new research approach, under licence from NatureScot, the team leading the ground-breaking charity project revealed that they had successfully caught, transported and released seven golden eagles from the Outer Hebrides. . . .

The Outer Hebrides were selected as the source to boost the south of Scotland population because these Islands host one of the highest densities of golden eagles in Europe. The birds were released almost immediately on arrival in a secret location in the southern uplands of Scotland. The project team is continuing to monitor the birds’ progress to see if they settle and breed in the area. If they do, this could be a ground-breaking for the project.

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive, said: “This ground-breaking project has accomplished so much over just a few years, bringing a viable population of golden eagles back to south Scotland . . . it’s wonderful to see a success like this. Golden eagles are a vital part of Scotland’s wildlife, and we’re passionate about returning them to places where they used to thrive. . . .”

[Quoting Staff writer, “South of Scotland Golden Eagle Population Reaches New Heights Thanks to Novel Research Technique”, THE SCOTTISH BANNER, November AD2022.]

This eagle population increase has been developing over time, thanks to patient conservation efforts. See, for further details, Joe Gibbs, “The Return of the Golden Eagle to Southern Scotland: How the King of Birds is Set to Make a Comeback Beyond the Highlands”, COUNTRY LIFE (September 19, 2021), posted at http://www.countrylife.co.uk/nature/the-return-of-the-golden-eagle-to-southern-scotland-how-the-king-of-birds-is-set-to-make-a-comeback-beyond-the-highlands-232264 .

For another photograph of this magnificent raptor, see ornithologist Lee Dusing’s post “Golden Eagles in Scotland”, posted November 28th of AD2018, at https://leesbird.com/2018/11/28/golden-eagles-in-scotland-youtube/  —  wherein Lee cites the very relevant Scripture, Job 39:27. 

GOLDEN EAGLE (Wilderness Scotland photo credit)

For extra explanation about how eagles fly—thanks to God’s bioengineering design and construction of these heavy-bodied (and often-soaring) birds—review my online article titled “Hawks and eagles Launching Skyward”, ACTS & FACTS, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at  www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward  — noting that the same Hebrew verb [paras], which is used to describe raptor birds’ wing-spread in Job 39:26, is likewise used in Isaiah 33:23 to describe how boat-sails are spread out to catch (and thus harness the power of) the wind.

God taught the patriarch Job a lot about His creation in the “nature sermon” (filled with rhetorical questions) in Job 38–41. God used examples of wildlife to illustrate His wise and caring providence. In particular, He challenged Job to appreciate how and why hawks and eagles fly high in the skies above, looking far and wide for earthbound food. . . .

Some who read Job 39:26 assume hawk migration is the question’s topic. But because God compares the hawk’s aerial behavior to eagle flight, the context suggests otherwise. Both raptors require special aerodynamics to lift their heavy bodies into the air. God designed these raptors to utilize weather-powered “elevators” to ascend into air currents. . . .

Rising hot-air currents routinely blow in from south of Israel, so hawks can “catch a ride” simply by stretching out their wings southward, just as sailors harness wind to power boats at sea. Gliding and soaring on extended wings reduces air resistance as well as the hawk’s need to burn energy by flapping.

Likewise, when God commands wind to blow, eagles can “mount up” (literally, “cause to fly”) upon rising thermal air currents—as if they were elevators—and glide almost effortlessly until they spy food far below with their super-powerful distance vision.

[Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Hawks and eagles Launching Skyward”, ACTS & FACTS, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at  www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward]

GOLDEN EAGLE in Cairngorms Park, Scotland (Peter Cairns / NATUREPL.COM photo credit)

Eagles are majestic birds famous for nesting in high places (Obadiah 1:4), moving through the air in marvelous maneuvering movements (Proverbs 30:19), energized and powered by God’s sustaining enablements (Isaiah 40:31).

When I think of eagles—both golden eagles and bald eagles, or any other kind of eagles—and contemplate what God has put into these magnificent birds, I think of the old doxological hymn HOW GREAT THOU ART!