The King of Kvarken

The symbol of the Kvarken World Heritage Site, the white-tailed eagle or Haliaeetus albicilla, has overcome hardships and soars triumphantly.

The beautiful Kvarken by Ostrobothnia is a narrow region of the Gulf of Bothnia. Its archipelago was formed following the end of the last ice age. Its shallow waters, countless bays, rocks and islets are unique to this area and well-deserving of their status as the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Finland. Its fragmented shoreline offers birds ideal nesting places and plenty of nutrition. This is why the Kvarken is also home to the white-tailed eagle. When the largest bird of prey in the country soars above the archipelago, you can’t miss it: its wingspan can be as much as 2.5 metres, wider than a human is tall.

The white-tailed eagle is the dearly loved symbol of the Kvarken, a hero of a bird that has been close to extinction. Due to harassment and environmental toxins, one year in the 1970s only four white-tailed eagle nestlings hatched in Finland. Fortunately today the species is alive and well, thanks to winter feeding and an intensive conservation programme that managed to revive the population. At the moment, the majority of all white-tailed eagle couples in Finland nest in the Kvarken area.

In the Vaasa region, we are proud of this monarch of the Kvarken and its impressive tale of survival. The white-tailed eagle is an excellent example of successful nature conservation, and its lifespan today is close to 40 years. This robust bird of prey can glide for several kilometres without flapping its huge wings. It stalks its prey patiently from up high, using its sharp eyes. When the time is right it plunges down – and finally returns to feed the newly-hatched royal family of the Kvarken.

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