White Bellied Sea Eagles are majestic grey and white birds regularly seen perching on branches overhanging the river or soaring in large circles, hunting for prey.
These huge grey and white birds have wing spans of up to 1.8m and are only slightly smaller than Wedge-Tailed Eagles.
Young Sea Eagles are brown, and are easily confused with 'Wedgies', only acquiring the distinctive grey and white plumage of an adult at four years of age.
Sea Eagles are long lived, surviving up to 26 years in the wild and 55 years in captivity. Like many raptors the male birds, weighing between 2.5 and 3.7kg, are slightly smaller than female birds that reach a maximum of 4.2kg.
White Bellied Sea Eagles mate for life, although if one of the pair dies it is quickly replaced. Pairs are usually sedentary, rarely moving from their home range.
One or two eggs are laid mid-dry season in a nest made of sticks and leaves that can grow to a very large size as birds add material to it rather than constructing a new nest each season. Nests are constructed in tall trees, usually near water, or on remote coastal cliffs.
Sea Eagles are opportunistic carnivores, feeding on pretty much anything they are able to find, catch or steal including carrion.
It will come as no surprise to know that our local Sea Eagles are particularly fond of Little Red Flying Foxes, an animal famous for congregating in large numbers close to town.
Pairs of Sea Eagles may hunt together and are known to bully and harass other birds into giving up or even regurgitating their prey.
White Bellied Sea Eagles live all around Australia as well as in other countries in Asia. They are right at home in coastal country but also live along inland rivers such as the Katherine River.
This large range protects the species from threats like habitat destruction, but land clearing in some areas has resulted in local population declines with only around 100 pairs still surviving in Victoria.
The Sea Eagles are sensitive creatures and may desert nests and young chicks if they feel that people are getting to close. Other threats include eating poisoned prey animals like rabbits, rats and foxes and eggshell thinning because of the past use of the pesticide DDT.
You can help look after these beautiful birds by staying away from Sea Eagle nests and limiting your use of poisons around the home and paddock.
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