White-bellied sea eagle

   ›      ›   White-bellied sea eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster.

The white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) belongs to the family Accipitridae. The white-bellied sea eagle species is distributed in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, southeast Asia, South China, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia.

Taxonomy of White-bellied sea eagle

  • Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucogaster
  • Common Name: White-bellied sea eagle
  • French: Pygargue blagre; German: WeiƟbauch-Seeadler; Spanish: Pigargo oriental;
  • Other names: Falco leucogaster J. F. Gmelin, 1788; Ichthyaetus blagrus Blyth, 1843; white-breasted sea eagle;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia

    Species author: Gmelin, 1788
Haliaeetus leucogaster was earlier included in genus Falco. It is closely related to H. sanfordi, H. vocifer and H. vociferoides.

Indian birds - Image of White-bellied sea eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster
Indian birds - Image of White-bellied sea eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster


The white-bellied sea eagle is a large bird measuring 75 to 85 cm in length. The female bird is larger than the male. The male sea eagle weighs 1.800 to 2,900 grams and the female weighs 2,500 to 3,900 grams. The wingspan is 178 to 220 cm. These sea eagle species is distinctive, having a whitish head, breast, under-wing coverts and tail. The upper parts are grey and the black. The under-wing flight feathers contrast with the whitish coverts. The adult male white-bellied sea eagle and the female are similar looking and the immature birds have brown plumage. The tail is short and wedge shaped. The bill is blue-grey with a darker tip and is large and hooked. The legs and feet are yellow. The long talons are black. The sea eagle call is a loud goose-like honking sound.


The white-bellied sea eagle normally inhabits coastal areas, inshore waters, islands, estuaries and wetlands.

Feeding habits

The white-bellied sea eagle feeds on fish, turtles and water snakes and crustaceans. It also feeds on small mammals, reptiles, birds and carrion. It is known for snatching feed from other birds.


The white-bellied sea eagle breeds during the dry season in its range. The nest is built on tall trees, cliffs or man-made pylons. The nest is constructed with sticks and branches and is lined with grass or seaweed. The clutch may have two eggs, but usually only one chick is reared successfully to fledging. Both the sea eagle parents take part in incubation and rearing of the chick.


The white-bellied sea eagle is distributed along the coast of Indian Subcontinent, Lakshadweep Islands, Andaman Islands, coastal South China, Southeast Asia and islands, islands of the Philippines and Indonesia and Australian coast.

Movement Patterns

The white-bellied sea eagle species are resident in some regions and are nomadic in certain regions. They move in search of feed.

Status and conservation

The white-bellied sea eagle global population is estimated to number 10,000 to 100,000 individual birds. These white-bellied sea eagle species have an extremely large range, and hence considered not vulnerable. The sea eagle population is under decline due breeding habitat loss caused by the clearance of water-edge vegetations. Shooting, poisoning and human activity near breeding sites are the threats to their survival.

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

Biological classification of Haliaeetus leucogaster
Species:H. leucogaster
Binomial name:Haliaeetus leucogaster
Distribution:Indian subcontinent, South China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines and Australia;
Feeding habits:small mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and carrion;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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