General Description

Breeding plumage: head, tail and belly white. Underwings white with grey flight feathers. Back and upperwings grey. Body up to 80 cm long. Wingspan 1.8-2.2 m. Females are larger than males and are distinguishable by size when a pair are together. Young sea-eagles are mottled brown and can be mistaken for Wedge-tailed Eagles. When soaring, sea-eagles hold their wings upwards in a shallow 'v' shape and their flight appears buoyant. Their calls include an inelegant goose-like honking noise.


White-bellied Sea-eagles are powerful hunters, opportunistic scavengers and skilful pirates. They hunt from exposed perches, diving down to grab fish and waterbirds in their talons. They steal prey from other birds in mid-air, harassing them by swooping and screaming until the prey is dropped, and can even flip over on their back in mid-flight to grab prey from the other bird's bill or feet. They scavenge on beach-washed carcasses and other dead animals. Sea-eagles maintain territories, and pairs tend to remain together for life. They make a large nest in the fork of a tall tree or on a cliff and add sticks and branches to it year after year. Their nests, feeding platforms and roosting perches are strategically placed providing them with a clear view across the surrounding area. Both parents brood and feed the young eagles. They are usually found near water.


Parts of India, China, through Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands. Mainland Australia and Tasmania.


Coastal areas, offshore islands, wetlands and large rivers. Sea-eagles can be found far inland over suitable rivers and wetlands.

More Information