White Bellied Sea Eagle
The White bellied Sea Eagle's scientific name is Haliaeetus leucogaster
and is Australia's second largest bird of prey (Wedge tailed Eagle is the largest)
Sea eagles are not true scientific eagles but are really giant Kites.
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle is a mainly a white and black (dark grey) bird.
White on the head and underneath (belly) and the leading front of the wings and black (dark grey) on their back and the back half of the wings.
The tail is wedge shaped, mainly dark grey with a whitish tip
Females are slightly larger than males
Their hooked bill is dark and their legs are a creamy colour with long black talons which with tiny spikes in the soles of their feet they use in grasping slippery fish etc
Their voice has been described as "loud deep goose-like honking"
Juveniles (young sea eagles) are a speckled brown
DISTRIBUTION and HABITAT
White-bellied Sea-Eagles are not just found in Australia, they have also been seen in New Guinea, Indonesia, South East Asia including India and China
As their name would suggest they occur mainly along the coastline (In bays around small Islands etc), but they are also found inland around rivers and wetlands
White-bellied Sea-Eagles are found in pairs living out of trees close to their "waterways"
These birds form pairs for life, and tend to stay in their own home range.
This large home range (up to 130 sq Kms)is often shared with other sea eagle pairs for the purpose of hunting,
But each pair will nest at least a couple of Kilometres apart
Like a lot of roosting birds they are often seen in the same "Favourite" trees
Sea Eagles tend to soar (glide) a lot with only slow flapping of wings
Sea Eagles are carnivores (meat eaters), feeding mainly on aquatic animals such as fish, turtles and sea snakes.
They also are known to eat birds, small mammals and reptiles and also dead carcasses along the edge of water, and sometimes force other smaller birds to drop their catches of prey.
White bellied sea eagles can be seen alighting from their perch and gliding down to attack their often unsuspecting prey
During Australia's Winter and Autumn one or two eggs are laid in a nest made out of an outer skin of sticks and an inner padding of leaves in tall trees near water.
If no trees are available and there is a lack of egg predators sea eagle nests can be found in shrubs or on rocky ledges
Hatching takes 40-44 days, with a further 95 days of life in the nest, and then a further couple of months of dependency on its parents.
If two eggs hatch often the eldest kills the other. White bellied sea eagles can begin to breed at the age of 5 and can live up to 30 years of age.
There are 3 main threats to these magnificent birds:
1) Habitat destruction is the most significant threat, which often causes the birds to nest in less suitable (more vulnerable) sites
2) Less fish populations close to shore due to over commercialised fishing may also be a threat
3) These birds are easily disturbed by loud noises, such as road building etc