White-Tailed Eagles

The white-tailed eagle is one of the most powerful and magnificent birds of prey that we have. It even grows slightly larger than its relative, the golden eagle.


What do white-tailed eagles look like?

Sea eagles belong to the goshawk family. They are mighty birds of prey. From the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail, they are 60 to 80 centimeters long, their wingspan is up to 240 centimeters. Its beak is chunky and yellow, and its tail is wedge-shaped. White-tailed eagles are brown, only the head and neck are lighter, and the tail is even white.

Juveniles are darker than adults and their tails are mottled brown. When they are ten years old, they are colored the same as large birds. White-tailed eagles have a very special flight pattern: in the air, they stretch their heads far forward, the wide, long wings are almost reminiscent of a board in shape and the tail is relatively short in relation to the bird as a whole. This distinguishes them from golden eagles, for example.

Where do white-tailed eagles live?

White-tailed eagles are at home in an approximately 3000 km wide region in Europe and Asia. There they live from Greenland to the farthest reaches of Siberia. In Central and Western Europe, white-tailed eagles have only been back for a few years.

Couples have been seen in northern Germany and even in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. In Europe today they can also be found in Norway, in the Baltic Sea region, in northern Poland, and in the Volga Delta. The birds live in very different habitats: in their distribution area, they can be found from the tundra to forests and steppe regions. However, they always stay near rivers, lakes, and seashores.

What sea eagle species are there?

There are eight sea eagle species. They are found on all continents except South America: the North American bald eagle is slightly smaller than our white-tailed eagle but very similar to it. Other relatives are, for example, the giant sea eagle, the ribbon sea eagle, or the fish eagle.

How old do white-tailed eagles get?

White-tailed eagles can live up to 30 years – but one animal is said to have lived as long as 42 years.


How do white-tailed eagles live?

Each of you has seen a white-tailed eagle at some point – even if only in a picture: it is the bird that is depicted on the coat of arms of the Federal Republic of Germany. For a long time, they were very common in Central Europe – around the year 1800, they were still often to be seen here. Sea eagles catch fish. Therefore, people at that time thought that the animals were harmful and hunted them.

After all, white-tailed eagles were extinct in Western Europe, and by the beginning of the 20th century, they were hard to be found in Germany either. Only when the hunt for them abated after World War II did they spread again. However, they then had to suffer from other threats: Because they ingested toxic pesticides through their food, the chicks died in their eggs.

However, sea eagles have been heavily guarded since around 1970 and have also increased in numbers again. White-tailed eagles are among the largest and most powerful birds of prey that can be found here: They are the largest eagles in Europe. They have so much power that they can catch fish weighing up to eight kilograms and even overpower a fox or hare.

White-tailed eagles are very loyal birds: they live with a partner all their lives. They build several nests, which they inhabit alternately. Because they are constantly repairing and building on the nests, they can grow up to two meters wide and five meters high. They usually build nests on tall trees, sometimes on rocks.

Friends and foes of the white-tailed eagle

White-tailed eagles have hardly any natural enemies – only humans and the destruction of their habitat can be dangerous to them.

How do white-tailed eagles reproduce?

White-tailed eagles do not become sexually mature until they are five years old. During mating season, they circle in the air with their mate, show dives, and touch their claws in the air. In the spring, they select one of their nests for breeding. In the south, they breed from March, in the north from June.

After mating, the female lays one to three eggs. Both parents incubate alternately, but the female usually a little more. The young hatch after 39 to 42 days of incubation. They are still naked and helpless. During this time, both parents get food. The young are not ready to leave the nest until they are 90 days old. However, they will be cared for by their parents for another one to two months. Only when they are independent do the young leave the territory of their parents and undertake long migrations.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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