White-bellied Sea-Eagle birdsaspoetry.com/Flickr

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Did You Know?

  • They pair up for life and are territorial
  • Can be seen harassing smaller birds forcing them to drop their food so they can steal it
  • Sea eagles are the second largest bird of prey in Australia after the wedge-tailed eagle
  • They can also be found in China, India, South-east Asia, Indonesia and New Guinea
FactBox Image

A large bird of prey with a dark grey back and a white head, white chest and white belly. Their legs are also white and have long black talons. They have dark eyes and a light-coloured, hooked beak. When viewed in flight, the undersides of the wings are a distinctive half white and half grey-brown.

First-year juveniles have a buffish and ‘spiky’ head, contrasting with patchy cream and dark brown body and wings; underwing pattern also patchy, but note half-moon at base of tail feathers. Older juveniles have a pale buff-grey tail.

Their nests are massive, made of sticks and branches, usually found in a tall living tree near water or on a remote coastal cliff (on ground if on an island).

Distinctive feature

A wedge-shaped tail, distinctive when seen in flight.


76 cm male, 84 cm female; with a wingspan of 1.8 - 2 m



Feeds mainly off marine animals, such as fish, turtles and sea snakes, but it also takes other birds and mammals.


Hovers low over prey, or makes a sloping power-dive from height or high perch to seize fish from surface; seldon enters water.


Breeds May to August. The female carries out most of the incubation, however the male occasionally performs this duty.

Field Guide

Improve your identification skills. Download your White-bellied Sea-Eagle field guide here!

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Resting

  • Feeding

  • Presence of nest

  • Presence of young

Climate Adaptations

White-bellied Sea-eagles are top predators in coastal areas and can often be seen hunting fish and small mammals along beaches, estuaries and sand dunes. Their presence may indicate a healthy coastal ecosystem with many food sources and foraging areas available.

When and Where

When To Look

Throughout the year. Usually breeds October to April.

Where To Look

  • Throughout Australia
  • Usually found along coast lines, but can also be found inland around lakes, rivers and dams
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is smaller in size and has a fan-shaped tail rather than a wedge-shaped tail.

May be confused with a Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus notatus), but kites are much smaller at 36 cm and have light coloured eyes.