White-Bellied Sea Eagle Facts

by on March 7th, 2015
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The white-bellied sea eagle, haliaeetus leucogaster, is the second largest raptor (bird of prey in Australia, second only to the wedge-tailed eagle. Males are slightly smaller than females, measuring up to 31.5 inches (80 centimeters) long and measuring up to 8 pounds (3.7 kilograms). Females on the other hand, are 33.4 inches (85 centimeters) long and weigh 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). The wingspan of both genders however, is around 6 to 7.2 feet (1.8 to 2.2 meters) from wingtip to wingtip. As the name implies, the underside of a white-bellied sea eagle is white while the back and wings are dark-grey to black in color. Their bills are grey while their talons are completely black.

The white-bellied sea eagle can be found in Australia, New Guinea, India, China and Indonesia. They will often inhabit coastal areas, but will also make due near rivers and wetlands. They can often be found in pairs (1 male and 1 female) and command a large home range which they will remain in throughout the year. These territories, which can be as large as 80.7 square miles (130 square kilometers), are often shared with other mating pairs for the purpose of hunting. They will however, make their nests at least 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other. Communicating with others is done through the use of goose-like honks, which are heard much more often during the breeding season.

The diet of a white-bellied sea eagle consists mostly of fish, sea snakes and turtles, although birds and small mammals are also an option. They will eat carrion (dead animals) if given the option and will even harass other birds until they drop their food so that they can take it. This animal may feed alone, in pairs or in a family group. They will hone in on their prey, and then glide in and snatch it up with their talons.

The breeding season for a white-bellied sea eagle takes place from May to October. A male and female will stay together for life, making a nest either in the trees or in shrubs and rocky ledges if trees are limited and there is a lack of egg predators. The female will lay anywhere from 1 to 3 white, oval shaped eggs in the nest. The eggs will hatch after a 40 to 44 day incubation period, which is split between both parents (mostly the female). The oldest of the siblings will often kill its siblings in order to better insure its own survival. The chicks will remain in the nest for about 95 days before fledging (learning how to fly), although they will still depend on their parents for another couple of months before becoming independent. If the little ones can survive long enough, then they can live to be up to 30 years old.

The white-bellied sea eagle is a threatened species. They face many threats such as loss of habitat, competition for food with wedge-tailed eagles, and poisoning are all leading to their decline. Loud noises, such as construction work, will also force them to relocate to a less suitable (more vulnerable) location. Hopefully, something can be done to help the white-bellied sea eagle overcome its obstacles and repopulate as it once did. After all, such a unique and powerful bird of prey deserves to live and prosper for many years.

Works Cited

“White-Bellied Sea-Eagle” 9 June 2011

“White-Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucogaster)” 9 June 2011

“White Bellied Sea Eagle” 9 June 2011

“White-Bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus Leucogaster)” 9 June 2011

“An Eye for the Eagle [65]” 9 June 2011


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