The population of golden eagles in Scotland has grown by 15% over the past decade, figures show.
Conservationists have welcomed the results of the fourth national golden eagle survey that shows numbers of the bird of prey have increased to 508 pairs from 442 in the last survey in 2003.
Experts say the figures show the golden eagle, regarded by many people as Scotland's national bird, is recovering to previous historic levels.
Having surpassed 500 pairs, golden eagles are now designated "favourable conservation status" in the UK.
Andrew Bachell, SNH's director of policy and advice, said: "It's particularly encouraging to see greater recovery in some areas where persecution had been thought to be a major constraint in the past.
The northern Highlands and the central spine of Scotland, between the Great Glen and Stirlingshire, saw the greatest increase in eagle numbers between 2003 and 2015, with "modest increases" also found in the population heartlands of the west Highlands and Islands.
SCA Director Jamie Stewart said: We welcome the news that the golden eagle has achieved favourable conservation status. We had long suspected that the self-appointed "gatekeepers" were undercounting the birds which fed the insinuation of foul play. Land owners and gamekeepers have been actively recording sightings and I am delighted to read that the numbers counted by those working on the ground closely mirrors that released.
We look forward to further success when the South of Scotland Golden Eagle initiative reaches release stage.
The 2014 report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) found that Southern Scotland could potentially support up to 16 eagle pairs. Presently, there are no more than 2 to 4 pairs, with limited nesting success.
Following an approach by Scottish Land & Estates, RSPB Scotland and Buccleuch Estates to the Scottish Government, a partnership has been formed with SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland to take the work forward.