White-tailed Eagle - description, habitat, interesting facts


Appearance and behavior. A very large massive predator with a powerful high beak, long, wide wings and a short tail. The male and female are indistinguishable by color, the female is somewhat larger. The length of the body is 60–98 cm, the wingspan is 190–250 cm, the male weighs 3–5.5 kg, the female - 4–7 kg. Well-developed feather “pants” on the legs, the lower half of the tarsk is not feathered, the legs are very powerful.

Description. The main plumage of an adult bird is from brown to fawn, uneven due to the darker base of feathers and burnt peaks. Color gradually brightens from the body to the head, which can be almost whitish. Fly feathers, belly, “pants” and undertail are darker than the main background. The tail is white, contrasted with wings, upper tail and undertail. The eyes look small, the eyes are from brownish-brown to yellow. Beak, stem, orbital ring is light yellow, legs are bright yellow. The young bird as a whole is dark brown with more or less pronounced ocher and white speckles (each center has a bright center and a dark border).

The tail is dark, less pointed than in the adult bird. The iris is dark brown, the beak is black, the wax-bone and legs are pale yellow, the orbital ring and the corners of the mouth are whitish or gray. In the intermediate outfits, the birds look motley-piebald, the coloring becomes more “uneven” due to the appearance of extensive light “tan”, mainly on the back, shoulders, nadhvoste. The last brighten beak, head, neck. Steering feathers gradually turn white from the center, a dark apical border on them lasts up to 4–5 years (a white tail with a dark top is also characteristic of a young golden eagle and an adult long-tailed eagle). The coloring of young birds and intermediate outfits are individually very variable. Adult outfit birds wear on the fifth or eighth year, after the onset of puberty. An adult eagle is easily distinguished from any predators of the same size on the whole white tail and light, without contrasts, the head, neck and beak.

A sitting bird looks short-tailed, massive and shapeless compared to eagles and big-headed compared to vultures. Soaring less often eagles, waving flight more difficult. When hovering, unlike the golden eagle and vulture, holds its wings horizontally, without raising them above the body. The wings of the soaring bird are long and wide - “rectangular,” like those of the vultures, unlike eagles — almost without carpal bend. In a flying bird, the head looks small (relatively larger than that of vultures, but smaller than that of eagles). From the golden eagle and long tail the white-tailed eagle in all outfits is distinguished by a short wedge-shaped tail, a more massive and high beak.

Vote. Coarse gnawing "Kyak-Kyak-Kyak. ", Croaking or barking"Kra-Kra". Sometimes a couple shouts a duet with their heads thrown back. With anxiety, a raspy metallic "kiki-kiki».

Distribution, status. It dwells throughout the northern and temperate zone of Eurasia from the southern tundra to Turkey, Iran, East China, and also in southern Greenland. In most of Europe and in arid treeless areas there are only isolated nesting sites. From areas with ice cover for the winter flies away, but can winter in some non-freezing reservoirs. Mainly concentrated in Europe, South-West Asia, in eastern China. In Russia, it is still common in forest-tundra and taiga zone, rarely to the south (with the exception of the Astrakhan delta), it occurs sporadically, mainly in flight and migrations. Sensitive to anxiety, very dependent on fluctuations in the level of food supply in reservoirs. Included in the Red Book of Russia, although the number has been growing recently.

Lifestyle. Fish weighing up to 3 kg predominate in the diet; they also feed on mammals up to the size of a hare, sick and weakened birds, carrion, and garbage. It catches its prey from shaving flight, snatches the fish with claws from the surface layer of water, without plunging deeply, unlike the osprey. Arrives before the opening of the reservoirs, flies off with their freezing. In wintering and migrations, sometimes it is collected by dozens of individuals, especially at fish-breeding ponds, at fish processing enterprises, in ports, at coastal landfills. It nests only near large inland waters and sea coasts. Reproduction begins in February-March, nesting is preceded by mating pairs with complex air pirouettes. Territorial, nesting settlements does not form.

Very massive nests, sometimes more than 2 m in height and in diameter, used for several years, couples build on large trees (unlike osprey, not at the top, but at a fork on the side of the trunk), less often on rocks, cliffs of rivers in the tundra zone. In clutch, usually 2, less often 3 eggs, off-white, sometimes with dark spots. The female mainly incubates, incubation lasts 34–48 days, feeding - up to 70 days. The grayish-brown first downy dress of chicks at the age of 3 weeks is replaced by a thicker, dark gray. Flying chicks at first keep on the parent plot, immature birds migrate widely. Begin nesting at 5-6 years of age.

White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

Where dwells

The area of ​​the white-tailed eagle is very large. In Eurasia, this species is distributed from Scandinavia and the Balkan Peninsula to Chukotka, Kamchatka, and the Pacific Coast of East Asia. To the north, this species penetrates to the tundra zone, to the south - to Greece, Asia Minor, Northern Iraq, Northern Iran, the lower reaches of the Amu Darya, Northern Mongolia, and Northeast China. It is also found in Greenland.

White-tailed eagle in flight

In the first half of the XX century. White-tailed eagle inhabited the entire territory of Russia, with the exception of the arctic tundra. To date, the southern boundary of the range in our country has moved significantly to the north.

How does it look

The white-tailed eagle is a large bird, its wingspan reaches 2.5 m. The body length of the white-tailed eagle can reach 90 cm and its weight - 7 kg. The plumage is brown, only the head and lower side of the body are slightly lighter. In adult birds, the tail is wedge-shaped white (whence the name of this species originated). The powerful beak of a light yellow shade is perfectly noticeable against the dark plumage of the eagles.

In adult birds, the white-tailed eagle beak is yellow.

Young birds are dark brown, with longitudinal spots on the underside of the body, while the tail and beak of young birds are dark. Adult plumage young eagles acquire only at the age of about five years.

White-tailed Eagle's voice — barking or croaking sounds.


These birds winter on the coasts of non-freezing seas and lakes from Western Europe to southern Asia, in the Near and Middle East, in India, Southeast Asia, in places where waterfowl and other aquatic animals congregate. In Russia, this bird winters on the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as in the Southern Primorye. However, some birds can stay all winter on the northern rivers - near the non-freezing areas where they fish.

The main requirements for nesting sites of this species are the presence of high and convenient for the device nests of trees located near rivers and lakes. White-tailed eagle builds on top of a large tree at a height of 4 to 22 m from the ground. Occasionally, birds of this species nest on cliffs, rocks or in the tundra zone on high steep banks of rivers, on topographical towers. The nest — a huge structure made of large branches and twigs — can reach 2 m in diameter and the same in height. The lining of the nest consists of grass, animal fur.

The most common prey of the White-tailed Eagle is fish. Also, these predators successfully catch birds - ducks, geese, gulls, partridges, coots - and animals - hares, gophers, muskrats, lemmings, voles. Carrion eagerly eats (corpses of seals, in particular, on the sea coasts).


The white-tailed eagle's nest is a huge and heavy construction of branches and twigs. There are cases when animal bones were used in building a nest. A married couple has been using it for many years in a row, remaining faithful both to each other and to their home. In a clutch, there are usually 2-3 dirty white eggs. In the hatching of eggs, which lasts 37-40 days, both parents participate.

Young eagles leave the nest at the age of 10 weeks. After the nestlings have left the nest, the eagles continue to take care of them for some time, teaching the youngsters the subtleties of the hunt.

Listed in the Red Book of Russia

White-tailed eagle is a rare and endangered species. The total number of this species in Russia is about 2500 pairs.

The rapid human development of coastal areas, the cutting down of old forests and a decrease in the quantity of one of the main food resources of this species, fish, leads to a decrease in the number of beautiful predators. In addition, eagles perish in traps, from pesticides, suffer from human anxiety, and the anxiety factor for these birds is very significant. Even a short-term presence of a person near the nest is enough for the birds to leave him forever.

Interesting fact

Like many other members of the family, the white-tailed eagle is a symbol bird. The flag of the Slavyansky municipal district of the Krasnodar Territory of the Russian Federation is decorated with a soaring white-tailed eagle, an ancient inhabitant of the Azov expanses. Orlan - a symbol of strength, confidence and independence - perfectly reflects the character of the locals, who value and respect freedom and courage. It is known that there are eagles and eagles. How are they different? Actually, these are two genera: Aquila (eagles) and Haliaeetus (eagles), which belong to the same subfamily of buzzards (Buteoninae) of the family of hawkies (Accipitridae). The eagles are somewhat larger than the eagles and have a non-feathered tail (the lower part of the legs).


Kingdom: Animals (Animalia).
Type of: Chordata (Chordata).
Class: Birds (Aves).
Squad: Falconiformes (Falconiformes).
Family: Hawk (Accipitridae).
Rod: Eagles (Haliaeetus).
View: White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla).

The appearance of the eagle

White-tailed eagle is a bird of prey reaching large sizes, while females are much larger than males. The female weighs about 5-7 kilograms, the largest female was recorded in Scotland, her weight was 7.5 kilograms. The weight of males does not exceed 5 kilograms. In length, the bird reaches 70-95 centimeters. Wings in span are 2.2 meters, with the length of the wing itself - 50-70 centimeters. Tail length - 30-35 centimeters.

A pair of eagles looking out for prey.

In the white-tailed eagle, the plumage is brown, with the head, neck and belly lighter than the rest of the body, they give a yellowish tinge.

The bill is powerful with a curved tip, it has a yellow bloom. The tail of this species is white. The limbs are yellow with large claws in black. The legs are not covered with feathers, this makes it easier for the eagle to hunt in water. Fingers are also adapted for water hunting - their internal surface is rough, thanks to this the birds keep slippery prey.

The plumage of young stock is darker than that of adults. The tail and beak are also dark. Adult color in the younger generation appears in 5 years.

Eagle's behavior and nutrition

These feathery predators feed on fish, mammals and other birds. Sometimes eagles take food from other predatory birds. White-tailed sea eagles hunt any fish swimming near the surface of the water. Predators also attack waterbirds. During such a hunt, the eagle forces the prey to constantly dive under water until it exhales, then it becomes easy prey. If the prey caught is large, the white-tailed eagle drags it to the shore right along the water.

Orlan is a bird of northern latitudes.

Cases of the attack of this powerful bird of prey on humans have been recorded. In Norway in 1932, this predator attacked a 4-year-old girl who played on her parents' farm. White-tailed eagle grabbed the girl by the dress and lifted into the air. The bird flew with the child 800 meters to its nest, which was located on the mountainside. The nest was located on a steep ledge. When the predator opened its claws, the girl fell not into the nest itself, but nearby. The child was very lucky, the dress caught on the rock, and the baby hung in the air. To help the child went instantly formed detachment of rescuers. The girl was safely rescued, she had only small bruises and abrasions. And the dress has become a real relic, it is still kept by family representatives.

The bird’s view is severe, as is its nature.

Number of

The white-tailed eagle has no worthy opponents among other birds of prey. But to reduce the number of leads to a bad environment. In addition, these predators were destroyed by local residents, mistakenly suggesting that white-tailed eagles are dangerous for livestock.

In Europe in the twentieth century, the population size of the species sharply decreased. In the 1980s, measures were developed to protect these birds. Today the situation has normalized and the disappearance of white-tailed eagles is not threatened.

Description of the White-tailed Eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla (white-tailed eagle) belongs to the genus of eagles included in the family of hawks. The appearance and behavior of the white-tailed eagle (in Ukraine known as serovaten) looks a lot like its American relative Haliaeetus leucocephalus, the bald eagle. For some ornithologists, the similarity of the two species was the basis for combining them into one super species.


If you look at the Eurasian area of ​​the White-tailed Eagle, it stretches from Scandinavia and Denmark to the Elbe Valley, captures the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, goes from the Balkan Peninsula to the Anadyr Basin and Kamchatka, spreading to the Pacific coast of East Asia.

In its northern part, the range passes along the coast of Norway (up to the 70th parallel), along the north of the Kola Peninsula, south of Kanin and Timan tundra, along the southern sector of Yamal, going further to the Gydansky peninsula to the 70th parallel, then to the mouths of the Yenisei and Pyasiny (on Taimyr), wedging between the valleys of Khatanga and Lena (up to the 73rd parallel) and ending near the southern slope of the Chukotka Range.

In addition, the white-tailed eagle is found in the regions located to the south:

  • Asia Minor and Greece,
  • northern iraq and iran
  • the lower reaches of the Amu Darya,
  • the lower reaches of Alakol, Ili and Zaisan,
  • Northeast China,
  • northern Mongolia
  • Korean Peninsula.

White-tailed eagle also lives on the west coast of Greenland right up to Disco Bay. The bird nests on islands such as the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, Oland, Iceland and Hokkaido. Ornithologists suggest that populations of sea eagles live on the islands of Novaya Zemlya and Vaygach. Earlier, the eagle actively nested in the Faroes and the British Isles, Sardinia and Corsica. For wintering white-tailed eagle selects European countries, east of China and South-West Asia.

It is interesting! In the north, the eagle behaves as a typical migratory bird, in the southern and middle lanes - as a settled or wandering. Young eagles living in the middle lane usually head towards the south in winter, while the old ones are not afraid to spend the winter on non-freezing water bodies.

In our country, the white-tailed eagle is ubiquitous, but the largest population density is found in the Azov Sea region, Caspian Sea and Baikal, where birds are seen most often. White-tailed eagles nest mainly near large reservoirs inside the mainland and sea coasts, which provide the birds with abundant food supply.

White-tailed Eagle Diet

The favorite dish of the eagle is fish (not heavier than 3 kg), which occupies the main place in its diet. But the predator's food interests are not limited to fish: it eats forest game (ground and birds) with pleasure, and often switches to carrion in winter.

The diet of the White-tailed Eagle includes:

Orlan changes the tactics of hunting, depending on the type and size of the object pursued. He overtakes the victim in flight or dives at it from the top, inspecting it from the air, and also stalking up, sitting on a perch or simply taking it away from a weaker predator.

In the steppe area, sea eagles await baikaks, mole rats, and gophers near their burrows, and speed mammals, such as hares, are snapped up in the air. For waterfowl birds (including large, the size of an eider, ducks) uses a different technique, forcing them to dive in fear.

Important! The victims of eagles are usually sick, weak or old animals. White-tailed sea eagles free water from frozen, snooty and worm-infected fish. All this, plus eating carrion, allows us to consider birds to be real natural nurses.

Ornithologists are confident that white-tailed eagles maintain the biological balance of their biotopes.

Natural enemies

Due to its impressive size and powerful beak, white-tailed eagle is almost devoid of natural enemies. True, this applies only to adult individuals, and the eggs and chicks of eagles are constantly under pressure from predatory animals that can climb nesting trees. Ornithologists have found that a lot of nests built by eagles in northeast Sakhalin are ruined by ... brown bears, which are characterized by characteristic scratches on the bark. Thus, in 2005, young bears destroyed almost half of the nests with chicks of the white-tailed eagle at different stages of their growth.

It is interesting! In the middle of the last century, a man became the worst enemy of the eagles, who decided that they were eating too many fish and were harvesting an unallowable number of muskrats that supplied him with valuable fur.

The result of the slaughter, when they shot not only adult birds, but purposefully exterminated clutches and chicks, was the death of a large part of the population. В наше время орланы-белохвосты признаны друзьями человека и фауны, но сейчас у птиц появились новые поводы для стресса, например, наплыв охотников и туристов, приводящий к смене мест гнездования.

Немало орланов гибнет в капканах, расставленных на лесных животных: ежегодно по этой причине погибает примерно 35 птиц. In addition, the eagle, after a careless visit of a man, without regret, throws his old clutch, but never attacks people, even if they ruin his nest.

Population and species status

Norway and Russia (where up to 7 thousand pairs nest) account for more than 55% of the European population of the white-tailed eagle, although in Europe the distribution of the species is rather sporadic. Haliaeetus albicilla is listed in the Red Data Books of the Russian Federation and the IUCN, and in the second it is listed with the note “less concern” due to the large range of habitats.

In Europe, the white-tailed eagle population is 9–12.3 thousand breeding pairs, which is equal to 17.9–24.5 thousand adult birds. The European population, according to IUCN estimates, makes up approximately 50–74% of the world population, which suggests a total number of eagles, close to 24.2–49 thousand mature birds.

Despite the slow growth of the global population, white-tailed eagle suffers from a variety of anthropogenic factors:

  • degradation and disappearance of wetlands,
  • construction of wind turbines,
  • environmental pollution,
  • inaccessibility of nesting places (due to modern methods used in forestry),
  • persecution by a person
  • oil industry development,
  • use of heavy metals and organochlorine pesticides.

Important! Birds leave the traditional nesting sites due to the massive cutting of old trees with well-developed crowns, as well as due to the impoverishment of the food supply caused by poaching and fishing.

Despite their wide gastronomical preferences, eagles need areas rich in game / fish to feed their offspring. In some regions, the number of eagles, indeed, is gradually increasing, but, as a rule, these are protected areas, where people almost never happen.