Daily Archives: October 3, 2013

Cleared for Landing: Steller’s Sea Eagle in Flight

Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)

The image on this post is of a Steller’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) that I photographed in Hokkaido, Japan. These are large, powerful eagles (just think that their wingspan measures up to 8 ft/2.5 mt) that are mostly dark with a white tail and white accents on the wings and a huge yellow beak.

They are believed to breed only in far eastern Russia, in the Sea of Okhotsk and Bering Sea regions and particularly on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Each winter, most Steller’s sea eagles migrate south to Japan.

Open water provides these eagles with their main food sources. These birds hunt from a perch or from flight by diving and clutching prey in their talons and sometimes they steal food from other birds. In Japan, Steller’s sea eagles primarily feed on cod and sometimes on crabs or shellfish and small animals.

With a total population estimated at 5,000 adults and declining (mainly due to habitat alteration and industrial pollution, logging and overfishing), Steller’s sea eagles are classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Main sources: National Geographic; BirdLife International and the IUCN Red List.

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