Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

White-tailed Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)


French: Pygargue à queue blanche German: Seeadler Spanish: Pigargo europeo
Other common names: White-tailed Eagle, White-tailed Fish-eagle

Falco Albicilla


, 1758,



Close relationship with H. leucocephalus supported by genetic data#R. Greenland population sometimes separated as race groenlandicus on grounds of larger average size, but species varies clinally, increasing in size from SE to NW#R. Monotypic.


SW Greenland; W Iceland; N & C Eurasia S to Greece and Turkey, S Caspian Sea, L Balkhash and NE China; formerly to lower R Yangtze and very likely Egypt#R; has bred on Attu I (W Aleutian Is). Winters S to N Mediterranean, Israel, Persian Gulf, Pakistan, N India, N Myanmar and SE China.

Descriptive notes

74–92 cm; male 3100–5400 g, female 3700–6900 g; wingspan 193–244 cm. White tail, yellow bill and yellow irides as in H. leucocephalus... read more


Mainly vocal during breeding season, a series of piercing yelps, “kyo-kyo-klee-klee-klee-klee...”,... read more


Diverse aquatic habitats, both freshwater and marine: coasts, rocky islands, lakes, large rivers... read more

Food and feeding

Wide range of food types, including fish, birds and, less often, mammals; prey normally medium-sized. Fish probably main prey in many areas... read more


Laying dates vary considerably with latitude: Jan in S of range; Apr–May in Arctic regions. Nests mainly on ledges of sea cliffs or... read more


Mainly migratory in N and E of breeding range; sedentary elsewhere, including Greenland, Iceland... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Previously considered Vulnerable. CITES I. Marked decline historically from 19th century, with drastic reduction and extinction from... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). White-tailed Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).