Press Release

Rare leucistic Red Kite found fatally shot in County Down - RSPB appeal for information

RSPB appeal for information

Posted 5 min read

A well-known Red Kite was found shot on Sandy Road, near Mayobridge, County Down in late April. The bird had to be euthanised, due to the extent of its injuries. This protected bird of prey is believed to be the eighteenth Red Kite to have been illegally killed in Northern Ireland since the species was reintroduced, and RSPB NI is appealing for more information.  

Known as Vivienne, this female kite had hatched in 2018 from a nest in the Dromara Hills in County Down. Vivienne’s unusual pale plumage (caused by a genetic mutation in the pigmentation of her feathers) made her easily recognisable and distinguishable from other Red Kites. She had been admired by birdwatchers, members of the local community and visitors and was a regularly seen in the Dromara area.

She had previously been found in poor condition in 2021 and was rehabilitated by Red Kite volunteers before being returned to the wild. However, despite the committed efforts made to ensure Vivienne’s survival, just three years later this healthy Red Kite’s life ended prematurely after she sustained fatal shotgun wounds.

Dean Jones, RSPB Investigations Officer for Northern Ireland: “The fact that this particular Red Kite was such a well-known character in the area, will cause a lot of upset to the local community and really highlights the risk that birds of prey face on a day-to-day basis in Northern Ireland, all because some individuals choose to kill them. The shooting of Vivienne is just the latest in a growing number of raptor persecution cases in the country and these are likely to be only a small proportion of the actual numbers being killed. If you have any information relating to this incident or the illegal killing of any bird of prey in Northern Ireland, please contact RSPB and the PSNI, so we can effectively tackle and prevent these crimes.”

Red Kites had been absent from Northern Ireland for over 200 years. Since their reintroduction in 2008, this iconic species has been slowly increasing. There are currently believed to be around 25 territorial pairs in Northern Ireland.  Although fully protected under The Wildlife (Northern IrelandOrder 1985, since their reintroduction Red Kites have suffered continuously from illegal persecution. Since 2008, 18 Red Kites are believed to have been shot or poisoned, although the true number is likely to be significantly higher as many of these crimes are never reported. No one has ever been prosecuted for crimes relating to raptor persecution offences in Northern Ireland.

If you have any information relating to this incident, please call the Police Service Northern Ireland on 101 and quote the crime reference case 1229/220424 or report online by following the link You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online.

You can also call the RSPB’s confidential Raptor Crime Hotline on 0300 999 0101 or email For more information, follow this link