White-tailed sea-eagle

   ›      ›   White-tailed sea-eagle - Haliaeetus albicilla.

The white-tailed sea-eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) belongs to the family Accipitridae. The white-tailed sea-eagle species is distributed in Europe, Asia, northern Indian Subcontinent and Myanmar.

Taxonomy of White-tailed sea-eagle

  • Scientific Name: Haliaeetus albicilla
  • Common Name: White-tailed sea-eagle
  • French: Pygargue à queue blanche; German: Seeadler; Spanish: Pigargo europeo;
  • Other names: Falco albicilla Linnaeus, 1758; Haliaeetus albicilla albicilla; Haliaeetus albicilla groenlandicus; white-tailed eagle; erne;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Haliaeetus albicilla was earlier classified under genus Falco. It is closely related to H. leucocephalus.

Indian birds - Image of White-tailed sea-eagle - Haliaeetus albicilla
Indian birds - White-tailed sea-eagle - Haliaeetus albicilla


The white-tailed sea-eagle is a large bird and the female is larger than the male. It measures 70 to 90 cm in length. The male sea eagle weighs 4,000 grams and the female weighs 5,500 grams. The wingspan is 200 to 245 cm. These eagle species have broad wings, a large head and a large thick beak. The plumage is mainly grayish-brown and head and neck are paler. The flight feathers are blackish. It has a distinctive white tail. The bill and legs are yellow. The sea eagle call sounds 'kyo-kyo-klee-klee-klee-klee'.


The white-tailed sea-eagle species inhabit diverse habitats in both freshwater and marine environment. These eagle species occur in coasts, rocky islands, lakes and large rivers.

Feeding habits

The white-tailed sea-eagles mainly feed on fish. They also feeds on small mammals, reptiles, birds and carrion. These eagles are known for pirating food from other birds including cormorants, gulls, ospreys and other birds of prey. They even snatch fish from otters.


The white-tailed sea-eagle breeding season is during January in southern ranges and the northern birds breed during April and May. They usually pair for life. These eagle species nest on coastal cliffs and also on tall trees. The nest is built with sticks.


The white-tailed sea-eagle is distributed in Norway, Russia, Greenland, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Iceland, United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, the former Yugoslav states, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, China, Japan, Mediterranean region, Israel, Persian Gulf, Pakistan, north India and north Myanmar.

Movement Patterns

The white-tailed sea-eagle populations are mostly resident and only the northernmost birds migrate southwards for wintering.

Status and conservation

The white-tailed sea-eagle global population is estimated to be 20,300 to 39,600 individual birds. The population is increasing owing to conservation measures. The degradation of wetlands, felling of trees in the breeding grounds, human activity in the breeding grounds, environmental pollution, collision with wind generators are the main threats to their survival.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these eagle species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Haliaeetus albicilla
Species:H. albicilla
Binomial name:Haliaeetus albicilla
Distribution:Europe, Asia, Northern Indian Subcontinent and Myanmar;
Feeding habits:Mainly fish; also small mammals, reptiles, birds and carrion;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haliaeetus_albicilla_(Svolv%C3%A6r,_2012).jpg
Image Author: Yathin S Krishnappa | Image License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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