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White-tailed sea eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla

White tailed sea eagle

White-tailed sea eagles are the largest of all European eagles and are broader and more vulture-like than golden eagles.

The birds were widespread in Scotland and Ireland but, following persecution, they became extinct in Britain in 1916.

They were reintroduced to the island of Rhum in 1975 and are now scattered along the west coast of Scotland.

One of the chicks bred at Belfast Zoo was part of a successful reintroduction programme in Israel.

Animal class


Diet - Carnivore
These eagles eat mainly fish and carrion but will also eat other birds.

White-tailed sea eagles are up to 91 centimetres (cm) long, with a wing span of up to 245cm. They weigh up to seven kilograms.

These eagles are found across Europe and in parts of Asia, usually along rocky coastlines.

Conservation status
The IUCN believe that the white-tailed sea eagle is not in any danger of extinction in the imminent future.

The major threat to white-tailed sea eagles is persecution by humans, water pollution and habitat loss.

Current population
Experts believe that there are between 5,000 to 7,000 white-tailed sea eagles living in the wild. Their numbers appear to be recovering and growing over recent years.

Zoo population
There is an EEP for white-tailed sea eagles. There are 220 living in zoos worldwide.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

EEP - European Endangered Species Programme

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