White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle  Haliaeetus albicilla


  • Haliaeetus : Latin word  Haliaeetus  : hali– sea;  aetos – eagle   { Sea eagle}
  • Albicilla : Latin word albus white; cilla- tail  { White-tailed}

Distribution in India: Winter Visitor seen across India.

Description: Size of 70-90 cm. It is a large eagle with broad parallel edged wings, short wedge shaped tail, protruding head and neck and heavy bill. Soars and glides with wings leveled. Adult has a yellow bill, pale head and white tail. Juvenile is mainly blackish-brown with whitish centers to tail feathers , pale patch on axillaries and variable pale band on under wing coverts . Bill will become yellow as it matures. Found in diverse aquatic habitats, both freshwater and marine: coasts, rocky islands, lakes, large rivers and large marshes. From desert to Arctic biomass. For nesting and roosting requires proximity to sea cliffs or forests, the latter ideally with tall trees.

Food Habits:  It eats fish, birds and, less often, mammals. During breeding often steals chicks and sometimes eggs from colonies. When preying upon non-nesting birds, white-tailed eagles often fly towards a water bird repeatedly, forcing it to dive again and again until the bird is exhausted and more easily caught. Very large prey such as swans may be dragged along the surface of the water to the shore to be consumed. When preying on fish, they are taken dead or dying, normally caught without plunge; species that swim near surface are preferred.

Breeding Habits: They breed in April- May in Arctic region. They nest mainly on ledges of sea cliffs or on high trees, rarely on ground; tree nest placed in fork or touching trunk. Each pair normally has 2–3 nests, which are used alternately. The nests are enormous structures of sticks and branches, which in time can become several meters deep and wide; cup lined with materials such as moss, grass, lichens, ferns, seaweed or wool. They lay a clutch of 2 eggs, laid at interval of 2–4 days. The incubation period is 38 days per egg, starting with first egg; adults share incubation and care of young. The chicks are born altricial and fledge in 70–90 days. The young depend on adults at least 30 days more.