White-tailed Eagle is a very large raptor with a widespread Eurasian Range.
They are often considered the Old World equivalent of our
Bald Eagle, a species to which they are
closely related. In the western Hemisphere, small numbers breed in
southwestern Greenland, and the species has also nested on Attu Island on
the far western edge of Alaska's Aleutian chain. Strays have been
spotted in other locations on the North American coastline, with historical
sightings once occurring as far south as Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Populations were depleted by the mid 20th-century, but protective measure
have led to a modest rebound in populations in recent years. Once
listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN, White-tailed Eagles are now
considered a species of "Least Concern". They are also sometimes
called the White-tailed Sea Eagle, especially in their normal Eurasian
Habitat: For breeding, White-tailed Eagles require
areas with broad expanses of coastline, in conjunction with cliff faces or
tall trees for nesting.
Diet: Feeds on a variety of prey, including
seabirds and freshwater birds, fish, and small to medium-sized mammals.
Many birds also specialize in carrion, particularly outside of the breeding
Behavior: When feeding on fish, White-tailed
Eagles typically cruise in a slow flight, dipping down to the water's
surface to grab fish while in flight. Much of its hunting is also done by
patiently observing from a prominent perch, and swooping down for prey when
it is spotted. Like their North American counterparts, the
Bald Eagle, White-tailed Eagles will also
sometimes engage in thievery of prey items from other birds and animals.
Nesting: White-tailed Eagles mate for life,
maintaining a permanent home range and using the same nest site year after
year. Subsequent generations may end up "inheriting" the same general
home range, resulting in nests and home ranges that may be used for many
successive decades. The nest is an extremely large structure built of
sticks and branches, often lined with softer vegetative material, and may
reach 6 feet or more across in size. The nest is constructed on a
cliff or in a large tree. Two eggs are typically laid, and both
parents help to incubate the eggs and raise the young.
Migration: Adult birds are typically considered
permanent residents, although they will make short movements to take
advantage of feeding opportunities. Young birds may disperse widely
after fledging, but settle into a permanent home range when they begin
Conservation Status: The White-tailed Eagle is
currently listed as a
species of "Least Concern" by the IUCN. However, populations are
no doubt far below historical levels. Populations were severely
reduced through the first half of the 20th century, and have since started
to recover in parts of their range. Numbers have been increasing in
recent decades, although habitat loss and poisoning continue to be problems
in parts of its range.