White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)

German: Seeadler
French: Pygargue à queue blanche
Italian: L'aquila di mare a coda bianca
Czeh: Orel mořský
Hungarian: rétisas
Croatian: Orao štekavac
Polish: Bielik (zwyczajny)
Slovakian: orol morský
Slovenian: Belorepec
Romanien: Vulturul codalb (Erne)
Serbian: Belorepan
Ukrainen: Орлан-білохвіст

The White-tailed Eagle is a large bird, 69–92 cm long with a 182–244 cm wingspan. Females, weight 4–6.9 kg, are slightly larger than males, which weigh 3.1-5.4 kg. It is the fourth largest eagle in the World. It has broad "barn door" wings, a large head and a thick "meat-cleaver" beak. The adult is mainly brown except for the paler head and neck, blackish flight feathers, distinctive white tail, and yellow bill and legs. In juvenile birds the tail and bill are darker, with the tail becoming white with a dark terminal band in sub-adults. Some individuals have been found to live over 25 years, but usually 21 years on average. This large eagle breeds in northern, central and eastern Europe and northern Asia. The White-tailed Eagle's diet is varied, including fish, birds, carrion, and, occasionally, small mammals. Many birds live almost wholly as scavengers, regularly pirating food from otters and other birds, but this eagle can be a powerful hunter as well. White-tailed Eagles are sexually mature at four or five years of age. They pair for life. A bond is formed when a permanent home range is chosen.

More images can be seen here!

According to Birdlife International the European breeding population is estimated to number 5,000-6,600 breeding pairs, equating to 15,000-19,800 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 50-74% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 20,300-39,600 individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. More information here!

In Hungary the White-tailed Eagle breeds in small numbers in the floodplain forests of larger rivers like Danube, Tisza and Dráva, and also in the vicinity of fishponds in Southern Transdanubia and on the Hungarian Great Plain. The population has slowly increased since the 1980s as areas in other parts of the country have been reoccupied. Larger numbers overwinter on the Hortobágy, along the Danube and in certain areas of the Southern Great Plain. Approximately 220 pairs breeding in the country and about 500 birds wintering. One of the most important wintering area is the Hortobágy National Park.

How to photograph them: You can photograph White-tailed Egales in comfort within the World Heritage Hortobágy National Park in Hungary from a heated hide system from December to March. For more information check out the Sakertour website!