White-tailed Eagle

The White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is a very large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It is sometimes known as the (Grey) Sea Eagle or Erne.

This bird can be found in northern Europe and Asia. It has also been successfully re-introduced into Scotland. The largest population in Europe is found along the coast of Norway.

Birds are mostly resident, only the most northerly birds migrate further south in winter.

The Eagle’s diet is diverse and includes fish, birds, carrion and rodents on occasion.

This is a huge bird, measuring 76-92 cm in length and with a wingspan of 190-240 cm. As with other raptors and birds of prey, females are considerably larger than the males. The White-tailed Eagle has broad “barn door” wings, a large head and thick “meat-cleaver” beak. Adults are mostly brown except for the paler head and neck, distinctive white tail and yellow bill and legs. In juvenile birds the tail and bill are darker, with the tail becoming white with a dark terminal band in sub-adults.

White-tailed Eagles are sexually mature at 4 or 5 years of age. The nest is a huge structure made from sticks in a tree or on a coastal cliff. These nests are often reused.

Mated pairs produce one to three eggs per year.

Surplus chicks are sometimes removed from nests to use in reintroduction programs in areas where the species has died out. In such programs, the birds are raised in boxes on platforms in the tree canopy and fed in such a way that they cannot see the person supplying their food, until they are old enough to fly and thus find their own food.

The White-tailed Eagle is believed to be the one shown in the Polish Coat of Arms.