This large eagle (6.0–8.0 ft wingspan, 27–37 in length) breeds in northern Europe and northern Asia. The largest population in Europe is found along the coast of Norway. The World population stands at only 9,000 – 11,000 pairs, with about 2000 pairs in Norway. They are mostly resident, only the northernmost birds such as the eastern Scandinavian and Siberian population migrating south in winter.
The White-tailed Sea Eagle is sometimes considered the fourth largest eagle in the world.It has broad ‘barn door’ wings, a large head and a large thick beak. The adult is mainly brown except for the paler head and neck, blackish flight feathers, distinctive white tail, and yellow bill and legs.
Some individuals have been found to live up to 50 years,21 years on average.
The Eagle’s diet is varied, including fish, birds, carrion, and, occasionally, mammals. Many birds live largely as scavengers, regularly pirating food from otters and other birds, and carrion is often the primary food source during lean winter months.However, this eagle can be a powerful hunter as well. (Watch this video from the Lofoten Islands where a White-tailed Sea Eagle is competing with seagulls.)
White-tailed Sea Eagles are sexually mature at four or five years of age. They pair for life, though if one dies replacement can occur quickly. A bond is formed when a permanent home range is chosen. They have a characteristic aerial courtship display which culminates in the pair locking talons mid-air and whirling earthwards in series of spectacular cartwheels. White-tailed Eagles are much more vocal than Golden Eagles, particularly during the breeding season and especially the male when near the eyrie. Calls can sometimes take on the form of a duet between the pair.
Mated pairs produce one to three eggs per year.
Bodo municipality (Northern Norway) is considered to have the world’s densest population of White-Tailed Sea Eagles and is elected Norway’s ‘Sea Eagle City’.
In the summer of 2008 – for the first time in 126 year – Sea Eagle bred by the Oslofjord!
Text by: Thor Bugge Lanesskog, ThorNews
Photos: On top: Johnny Storvik, below: Kjell Isaksen
Sources: Fylkesmannen, Wikipedia (Norwegian and English)