Last updated on 1-Nov 2017
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle is the second largest raptor found in Australia, they are a common sight in coastal and near coastal areas of Australia, including inland river systems.
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle has white on the head, rump and underparts and dark grey on the back and wings. In flight, the black flight feathers on the wings are easily seen when the bird is viewed from below. The large, hooked bill is grey with a darker tip, and the eye is dark brown. The legs and feet are cream-white, with long black talons (claws). The sexes are similar. As in other raptors (birds of prey), Males (2.5 kg – 3.7 kg) are slightly smaller than females (2.8 kg – 4.2 kg).The wingspan is about 1.8 m – 2 m. Young Sea-Eagles are brown as juveniles then slowly resemble adults in a patchwork manner, acquiring complete adult plumage by their fourth year.
Distinctive loud “goose-like” honking call, which is heard particularly during the breeding season. Bird call recorded by: Marc Anderson
White-bellied Sea-Eagles are a common sight in coastal and near coastal areas of Australia. In addition to Australia, the species is found in New Guinea, Indonesia, China, south-east Asia and India
White-bellied Sea-Eagles are normally seen perched high in a tree or soaring over waterways and adjacent land.
Birds form permanent pairs that inhabit territories throughout the year.
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle feeds mainly off aquatic animals, such as fish, turtles and sea snakes, but it also takes birds and mammals. It is a skilled hunter and will attack prey up to the size of a swan. Sea-Eagles feed on carrion (dead prey) such as sheep and fish along the waterline. They harass smaller birds, forcing them to drop any food they carry. Sea-Eagles feed alone, in pairs or in family groups.
White-bellied Sea-Eagles build a large stick nest, which is used for many seasons in succession. The nest can be located in a tree up to 30m above the ground, but may also be placed on the ground or on rocks, where there are no suitable trees. At the start of the breeding season, the nest is lined with fresh green leaves and twigs. The female carries out most of the incubation of the white eggs, but the male performs this duty from time to time.