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Conservationists stunned after spotting eagle species for first time in 500 years: 'We are absolutely thrilled'

"Their presence here is a testament to the power we all have to create positive change for our planet."

"Their presence here is a testament to the power we all have to create positive change for our planet."

Photo Credit: iStock

When was the last time a white-tailed eagle nested in Belgium? If you guessed around the time the first European explorer laid eyes on Manhattan, you'd be right.

But in a remarkable twist of fate, these majestic birds, once widely distributed across Europe, are finally making a comeback in Belgium after a 500-year absence.

A pair of white-tailed eagles affectionately named Paul and Betty recently hatched a chick at the De Blankaart nature reserve in West Flanders, according to the Good News Network. The expecting parents are also keeping watch over a second egg, with hopes of welcoming another eaglet soon.

While white-tailed eagles have been reintroduced in other parts of Europe like Great Britain and Ireland, this is Belgium's first recorded nesting in five centuries. Local officials are taking the momentous occasion seriously, setting up a protected area around the nest and threatening trespassers with hefty fines.

The return of these iconic birds isn't just a win for biodiversity — it's a promising sign that our ecosystems are slowly healing. White-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, suffered steep population declines in the 20th century largely due to the widespread use of harmful agricultural chemicals.

Thanks to more sustainable farming practices and dedicated conservation efforts, Europe is now home to over 6,000 breeding pairs of sea eagles. For Belgians who are seeing these incredible creatures for the first time in generations, their presence is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

So, next time you're feeling overwhelmed by the state of our environment, remember Paul and Betty. Together, through our everyday actions and advocacy, we can build a world where all species have room to soar.

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