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.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

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32 thoughts on “Cleared for Landing: Steller’s Sea Eagle in Flight

  1. Nature on the Edge

    Ailerons, and landing flaps down … beautiful shot! What a fascinating island Hokkaido is for breathtaking landscapes and surprising wildlife. Just had a look at your gallery of ‘snow’ monkeys … recognise a face or two there. Still have their ‘aquatic’ look in summer, though sans snow.

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you! Glad you liked the image. You are absolutely right: Hokkaido is a beautiful island where wildlife is still relatively abudant, people are super nice and food is great. I’d definitely go back, if only it were a little closer to where I live… I remember that you went to photograph the snow monkeys in the summer. Interesting animals. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      That’d be lovely, Tracy: I’d be honored to have one of my photographs hanging from the wall of your zen-like office! Thank you for saying that. 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Heather – glad you liked the shot. Fortunately, when they migrate to Japan in the winter, they tend to concentrate in Hokkaido, so the odds are fairly good at that time. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, JG! Glad you liked it. I totally agree with you – this is one of those instances when being a larger mammal pays off! 😉
      Always good to read from you: please know that I miss your beautiful posts!!! I hope I will read you again soon. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, B! Yes, that’s a big bird all right. It is beautiful to see them fly and interact with other eagles, kind of fascinating. Thanks as always for your nice comments, dear B.
      I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Camilla: glad you liked the shot! 🙂 I am absolutely sure you would love Hokkaido: so much to photograph and so many super nice, friendly people. You got to love Japanese food though (I do and I pomose, it is delicious over there, so fresh and flavorful!) I really hope you will get to go. 🙂

      Reply
      1. caleephotography

        I’ve been to Japan several times, but never made it all the way up to Hokkaido.. Maybe next time! From the pictures I’ve seen, I’m sure I’d love it 🙂 (and yes, I *love* Japanese food!!)

  2. Fig & Quince

    Stunning capture and it feels so proximate like I’m there too in that second. I can’t imagine how exhilarating it must feel like to have viewed this in real life. What a rush!

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, Azita, glad you liked the shot! Yes, seeing those eagles in action in such close proximity is an awesome experience and definitely an adrenaline rush! 🙂

      Reply
  3. ChgoJohn

    Beautiful capture, Stefano, as are the others in your gallery. With that beak and those talons, these must be formidable birds. I hope they find a way to save the species. The lower their numbers drop, the more difficult it will become.

    Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you, John: glad you liked the shot.
      You are absolutely right on both counts: they are impressive, powerful birds and yet they are threatened because of man’s often inconsiderate conduct. More of us should be mindful that we are part of a larger ecosystem together with the other animals that populate the planet and we should act more responsibly as the ever diminishing biodiversity not only is sad in itself but will also determine negative consequences for us all and the world we live in. We cannot keep ignoring this.
      Thank you once again for your always thoughtful comments, John.

      Reply
    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you very much, dear Dina!
      Yes, as you know patience is key in wildlife photography 🙂
      I am glad you liked the shot.
      And I am very happy to see you back online, gracing the Internet with your photographs and your thoughtful comments! 🙂
      Have a wonderful weekend – a big hug,
      Stefano

      Reply

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