The white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is enormous and indefatigable and turn their daily hunt into a thrilling display of aerial dominance. You can watch the majestic sea eagles in Norway all year round.
However, the white-tailed eagle population in Norway hasn’t always been so robust. They were hunted aggressively until 1968, when protections helped their numbers rebound from several hundred breeding pairs to thousands of pairs today.
The largest species of eagle in the world
It is the largest bird of prey in the family of Accipitridae which includes other raptors such as hawks, kites, and harriers. They are among the largest species of eagle in the world, with a wingspan of up to eight feet. Nordland (North Norway) has 35 % of all the white-tailed eagles in Norway and 20 % of the world population. You will not find a better guarantee for a meeting with this majestic bird of prey. Here you can catch the eagle’s eye all year round.
The White-tailed Eagle also called the Sea Eagle, and White-tailed Sea-eagle is a large bird of prey in the family
Scientifically these large raptors are commonly known as sea eagles or white-tailed eagles. “Sea eagle” is an accurate translation of the genus name, Haliaeetus, while “white-tailed” is accurate for the species name, albicilla. The Norwegians call them Havørn.
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She as been watching you for quite some time
“You feel her presence before you see her. But she has already seen you. Been watching you for quite some time, gliding majestically above your head, reconnoitring, sailing on the up-current and waiting. Waiting for her prey to approach the surface, ready for transformation into a tasty lunch,” says a fishing expert.
According to BirdLife International, the European population is 50 to 75 percent of the global population. European breeding pairs are in the range of 9,000 to 12,000, with more than half in Norway and Russia. The total European sea eagle population is estimated at 18,000 to 24,500 mature individuals. The White-tailed eagle is considered a close cousin of the Bald Eagle and occupies the same ecological niche, but in Eurasia. It is a very large bird. It measures 66 – 94 cm in length with a 1.78 – 2.45 meters wingspan. The wingspan, with a midpoint of 2.18 meters is on average the largest of any eagle.
A perfectionist at work
The White-tailed eagle is a perfectionist at work. Quick, yet surprisingly leisurely, she approaches the great blue expanse of water. A quick splash and it’s all over, but only for the fish. For you, this meeting with the sea eagle is something you will bear with you. For a long, long time.
In north of Norway, these birds are year-round residents. However, sea eagles are also found in sizeable populations in Greenland, Sweden, Poland, and Germany and in smaller numbers in Iceland, the UK, all the countries along the Baltic, parts of central and eastern Europe, the Adriatic, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. In Asia, populations are found in China and Japan.
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Watch the Majestic Sea Eagles in Norway
Virtually any fish found near the surface is potential prey for the White-tailed eagle. Commercial fisheries and carp ponds are readily exploited by the eagles when available. There are hundreds of Sea Eagles (White-tailed Eagles) in the area around Bodø, both young and old. The people who live there, and who are out at sea on a daily basis, know where they are. BirdingBed is run by two hobby ornithologists, Erik A. Hansen and Kenneth T. Lunna. Erik has been birdwatching periodically his whole life, while Kenneth is relatively new to the game. They will gladly take visitors to sites close to the eagles – but not too close!
Sea Eagles pair for life. They are known for spectacular courtship displays, locking their talons together in midflight and tumbling to earth. The eagles build their nests in trees or on coastal cliffs. They are very territorial and will often use the same nests year after year. In fact, a nest in Iceland has been used by successive generations for over 150 years.
Bodø – the town of the Sea Eagle
Bodø is known as the town of the Sea Eagle, and nowhere in the world is there a larger stock of this majestic bird. Daily these huge birds are observed soaring high above the town or perthed on rocks on the islands near Bodø. The Sea Eagle Society (in Norwegian only) is an exclusive club that aims to protect the sea eagle and to inform the public about this proud bird.
Membership in the Sea Eagle Society is available at Destinasjon Bodø and at the Norwegian Aviation Museum, but only to those who have actually been in Bodø and have seen the sea eagle in its natural environment.
Feature image (on top): Photo credit: Wikipedia
Watch the Majestic Sea Eagles in Norway, compiled and written by Tor Kjolberg