White-tailed eagle

Species profile

Name: the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a large eagle found across Europe and Asia. It is one of eleven members of the Haliaeetus genus – which are commonly known as ‘sea eagles’.

Appearance: white-tailed eagles are typically a grey brown colour with a distinctive white tail. In flight, their wings are extremely broad and their tails wedge shaped.

Size: they are one of the largest birds of prey and the fourth largest eagle in the world – after the Steller’s sea eagle, the harpy eagle, and the Philippine eagle. They typically weigh between 4 to 7 kg with a wingspan of 1.8 to 2.5 metres.

Diet: their prey includes fish and water birds although their diets are varied, opportunistic, and seasonal.

Did you know: white-tailed eagles have played an important role in folklore and artwork since prehistory. To this day many places and landmarks are still named after them and they are depicted in the Polish and Serbian coats of arms. On Orkney, white-tailed eagle bones have been found in 6,000 year-old burial mounds. Their talons have even been found with cut marks in them at the Krapina Neanderthal site. Suggesting that they may have been used to make Neanderthal jewellery!

Location: they breed across Northern Europe and Asia, from as far east as Greenland to as far west as Japan. They previously covered an even larger area but were lost from much of this range due to hunting. Across Europe they almost became extinct although conservation and reintroduction schemes have seen them return to their old haunts.

Best places to see white-tailed eagles

According to reports submitted to WildSide, the best places to see white-tailed eagles are as follows:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Isle of Mull
very good

Photo credit: Per-Arne, under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay