The White-tailed Eagle is a large eagle having possibly the largest wingspan of any living eagle.
White-tailed Eagles generally have dark brown bodies. Their heads, necks, and upper breasts have a paler or lighter shade of brown and are streaked with white. They have yellow eyes, a short hooked yellow bill, white wedge-shaped tails, and yellow feet. Older birds may show whitish heads.
Juveniles have darker brown coloring with uneven, whitish mottling or streaks across their bodies. Their bills and tails are also dark. It takes four to five years before they attain full adult feathers.
- Haliaeetus albicilla
- Length: 31 – 40 in (79 – 102 cm)
- Weight: 194 oz (5498 g)
- Wingspan: 72 – 96 in (183 – 244 cm)
White-tailed Eagles are more commonly seen across Europe and Asia, but it has been known to visit North America, particularly on the western shores of Alaska.
Habitat And Diet
You can find White-tailed Eagles around rocky coastlines near large bodies of water. In winter, they move to low coastal spots and coastal marshes. During nesting, they need forested areas with large, tall, mature trees or cliffs near lakes, rivers, and seas.
They may also visit human environments with access to food like commercial fish farms but only if they won’t be disturbed by actual humans.
White-tailed Eagles are keen predators that hunt fish, birds, and mammals whenever and wherever they can. Their primary food is fish which they capture when flying from a perch or when flying low.
They may even walk on shallow water and fish from the shore. They are also known to steal food from other birds foraging near their territory.
In hunting birds, White Eagles use stealth and low flight to catch them unaware. They usually target diving ducks, exhausting them until they’re too weak to fight. They may also prey upon nestlings and juveniles. During the lean winter months, they are known to eat carrion or decaying animals.
White-tailed Eagles Calls:
Nests of White-tailed Eagles are often found in large trees, built in-between branches, supported by the main fork, a canopy, or a large side branch. They are usually high up in trees, near the water, or at the edge of an open space. Sometimes, even if trees were available, they would still build on sea cliffs or other rocky spots.
The male White-Tailed Eagle will bring the materials, mostly sticks and branches, and lichen, moss, seaweed, and ferns for lining the inside. The female then constructs the nest. They are known to build alternate nests, with as many as 11 but usually around 2 nests per pair.
The female lays one to three eggs which she incubates for about forty days. The male, for his part, hunts for food and feeds the female, even when the eggs have hatched for up to three weeks.
After that, the female will also join in hunting for food. When the young start to fledge, they may rely on their parents to feed them, but they won’t feed them much in order to encourage them to hunt on their own.
The White-tailed Eagle had once gone extinct in Europe due to killing by humans. They shot and poisoned them and destroyed any nests that they found. Their numbers have recovered well today due to governmental restrictions and conservationists’ protection.