Giant cranes return to Ireland for the first time in 300 years (WATCH)

The flying giants have been spotted on the Emerald Isle for the first time in over three centuries.

Animal experts are optimistic that the species could be reintroduced to the Emerald Isle as giant cranes return to Ireland for the first time in 300 years.

Two giant birds have settled in a bog in the Irish midlands and experts hope that the pair will breed. This will, in turn, naturally reintroduce the species to the island for the first time in over three centuries.

Rewetting Ireland’s boglands – a positive step

Giant cranes return to Ireland after Bord na Mona started a programme of rewetting Ireland's boglands.
Credit: Facebook / @BordnaMonaIreland

The flying giants feature heavily throughout Irish folklore and mythology and were even kept as pets in medieval times. However, giant cranes have been extinct in Ireland for centuries.

So, the recent sighting has animal experts optimistic for the future of the species here. It’s a highly significant development that two giant cranes return to Ireland for the first time in 300 years.

The pair of cranes were first spotted by semi-state company Bord na Móna, which was set up in 1946 to develop Ireland’s peatlands.

In January this year, Bord na Móna rewetted thousands of hectares of boglands across Ireland’s midlands after announcing they would permanently cease peat production.

Giants of the sky – Ireland’s ancient species

The cranes are giants of the sky.
Credit: Pixabay / oneearthimages

Revealing the news that two giant cranes return to Ireland for the first time in 300 years, Bord na Móna posted a video on social media with a statement.

It said,  “In what is a sighting of particular significance, we recently recorded a pair of cranes nesting at a site on a rewetted bog.

“If they successfully breed, they will be the first Common Cranes to do so in Ireland in 300 years.”

The video shows one of the two cranes making its way through the bogland.

How big are they? – a flying giant

Giant cranes return to Ireland for the first time in 300 years.
Credit: Pixabay / uzilday

As the so-called giant cranes return to Ireland, you may be wondering how big the birds actually are.

Living up to the name, the enormous birds can grow up to an incredible four feet (1.2 m) tall. Further, they have a wingspan stretching out as far as seven feet (2.1 m).

The birds were common in Ireland prior to the 17th-century. However, throughout the 1600s and 1700s, they were sadly hunted to extinction across the country.

Mark McCorry, lead ecologist at Bord na Móna, told BBC News that the return of nesting cranes is very significant.

He revealed that he is “reasonably optimistic” that the species may breed. He even stated that there is a possibility they have already begun to re-establish themselves in Ireland after a juvenile crane was spotted in a Dublin estuary last autumn.

McCorry told BBC News, “It would be suspected that if it was a juvenile crane, it bred somewhere in Ireland.

“So it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that this pair of cranes are not the only pair now in Ireland.”

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