Golden eagles are proving to be the best friends of the sheep farmers who once feared their reintroduction.
Farmers in Co Donegal, where the eagles are finally flying wild, have noticed a decline in the number of attacks by local hooded grey crows on newborn lambs.
The arrival of the golden eagles, after an absence of more than 100 years, has scared off the huge number of grey crows, a known local scourge as they attack young lambs, according to a new report by the Golden Eagle Trust.
Three young eagles fledged in Donegal during the summer; while in Co Wicklow, 11 pairs of red kites nested this year, breeding 12 young birds.
Also this year a pair of eagles returned to their 2007 eyrie in Glenveagh, Co Donegal, and successfully reared one chick, which left the nest in late June. In total, three pairs of golden eagles laid eggs in Donegal in 2010.
The breeding kites in Wicklow were found to be feeding their young on rabbits, crows, rats, and in one case scraps from a butcher's.
Despite the setback of poisoning incidents in both Donegal and Wicklow, this year's breeding results suggest that "red kites will once again become established along the east coast of Ireland", the report says.
The Golden Eagle Trust praised the ongoing support of the local sheep farming and shooting communities in Donegal and Wicklow.
A total of 58 young golden eagles have been released since the project began in 2001, and the plan is to release a total of 75 birds.
Meanwhile in Kerry, several white-tailed eagles introduced there have become fully grown over the summer. A four-part series on the golden eagles, red kites and white-tailed eagles, called 'The Eagles Return' is being aired on RTE 1 at 7pm next Tuesday.