White-tailed Eagle
(Haliaeëtus albicilla)

Classification and names
BIrd of prey; order: Falconiformes; family: Accipitridae; sub-family: Buteoninae

Other and local names: White-tailed Sea Eagle, Grey Sea Eagle
In French/Franšais: Pygargue á queue blanche
In Spanish/Espa˝ol: Pigargo Europeo
In German/Deutsch: Seeadler
In Dutch/Nederlands: Zeearend

Largest bird of prey in Northern Europe. Very large right-angled wings, with “fingers”at end. Small wedge-shaped tail. Half of legs feathered. Large head and massive beak.
Colour: Brown. Adults have white tail, which is brown in sub-adults. Head of adult often light colour, sometimes almost completely white. Yellow beak.
Length: adult: height 69-95 cm, wingspan 200-250 cm; egg size 76x59 mm
Weight: adult: 3.0 to 6.0 kg.

At present breeds in western and central Europe mainly in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, north-east Germany, north-western Poland and Danube Valley, but in past in many other countries. Recently re-introduced in Scotland and Ireland.
Migration: Some populations, e.g. in Norway, do not migrate. Others winter mainly along Norwegian and Baltic coasts and southern Eurasia.

Palaearctic. Fresh and saline water habitats, e.g. sea and lake coasts, rivers and wetlands. Builds nest on high cliff or high tree.

Fish, water birds, mammals and carrion.

Behaviour & Reproduction
Feeding: when hunting sits on high perch or flies low over water
Sociability: monogamous, average distance between nests 4 km in good habitat
Vocalising: barking noises, sound of female lower
Mobility: flies slowly, glides and dives
Specifics: large nest on high cliff or high tree in old forest and near water
Sexual maturity: find mate at 5-6 years and build nest
Reproduction capacity: one nest of 1-3 eggs per year
Reproduction period: February-July, incubation 34-46 days
Nursing period: fed by both parents, leaves nest at 70-90 days
Life span: 21 years

All threats are related to man:
Egg and specimen-collection and shooting;
Pollution and poisoning;
Habitat loss and degradation, e.g. clearance of trees;
Human disturbance.

CITES Appendix I.
CMS Appendix I and II.
EU Habitats Directive, Annex I

Estimates of Europe vary 2,400-3,500 breeding pairs, of which most in Norway (1500 breeding pairs).

Sources & further reading:
E.J.M. Hagemeijer and M.J. Blair (Editors), “The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds: Their Distribution and Abundance”, 1997, T & AD Poyser, London.

H. Heinzel, R. Fitter, J. Parslow, “Gids Europese vogels: alle vogels van Europa, Noord-Afrika en het Midden-Oosten”, Baarn, Thieme, 1972/1973/1990