Scientific Classificationwhite bellied sea eagle

ORDER: Falconiformes

FAMILY: Accipitridae

GENUS: Haliaeetus

SPECIES: Haliaeetus leucogaster




White-bellied sea eagles are commonly found in all coastal areas of Australia, although they are also found in countries such as New Guinea, China, India and Indonesia. The sea Eagle inhabits the canopy of trees near the ocean or large bodies of water where they find their food.


The White-bellied sea eagle has both a white head and underparts (hence their name), along with dark grey wings. The two sexes are similar in colour and appearance, although males are smaller than females. Juvenile White-bellied sea eagles differ from adults, and have a brown colour before mature into adults.


This species of eagle is only active during the day. Unless gathered in areas with lots of food, they are only seen individually or in pairs and are described as a fairly inactive species. They perform an array of different dives in order to catch prey after gliding along the water. They mainly feed on fish, but have also been observed feeding on turtles, sea snakes and small mammals or birds.


The White-bellied sea eagle reproduces in monogamous pairs (only one partner during their lifetime) and breed from January to June (or later in some parts of Australia). Nests are usually built in tall trees from sticks/twigs and reused each time they build a nest. 1-3 eggs are laid and incubated for 6 weeks. Once hatched, both White-bellied sea eagle parents will feed them for 60-70 days until they are ready to leave the nest. They are fully independent at 3 months and can live up to 20 years.


White-bellied sea eagles, like other predators, have the vital ecological role helping control levels of prey species. If birds of prey like the white bellied sea eagle went extinct, aquatic species would reproduce more and therefore consume more of their own prey or food source (exponential growth in fish populations can lead to over-grazing of coral reefs), altering the entire ecosystem and potentially causing a lot of damage.


Developments are the main impact on the White-bellied sea eagle populations on the island. Loss of fish populations will also have an impact as they may not breed if there is not enough food to support the adults and their young. Their populations in other areas of their range may be affected by  hunting as the White-bellied sea eagle is used in tribal ceremonies.


White-bellied sea eagles sometimes follow dolphins in the water so that they can lead them to schools of fish!


** This data set was written by David Stanley of Bournemouth University, England and edited by Stephanie Young**

***Identification of these species has been made through, photographic documentation cross referenced with external specialists and identification books. Any errors in our database will be rectified upon notification, if you feel that we have misidentified any species please help us to improve our research through our contact us page. All people involved will be acknowledge in the website and reports***



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