Steller’s Sea Eagle Fact File
The steller’s sea eagle is the largest of the sea-eagles and they are the heaviest known eagle. They measure between 85 and 94cm (33.5-37in) long. With a wingspan of up to 136cm (4.5ft).
Females are larger than males. They measure in at 9kg (20lbs) while males weigh 6kg (13.2lbs).
These striking eagles have a dark body covered by blackish-brown feathers with white feathers across their shoulders, tail and thighs. A small white patch is also found on the forehead.
Their beak, legs and feet are bright yellow. The beak is strong and has a hook at its end.
The eye is colored yellow and is surrounded by a thin yellow ring.
Steller’s sea eagles are carnviores. Their main food sources are fish such as trout and salmon. Other food sources include small mammals, crabs and smaller birds. They will also scavenge food which may be stolen from other birds.
They spend their day perched in a tree. From here they can scan their surroundings for food and when it is spotted they can swoop in for the kill. They may also fly out over the sea and catch fish out of the water.
Steller’s sea eagles have been known to take advantage of human traps from which they can steal food.
Wild 20 years
Captive 40 years
— AD —
Asia is the native home of the Steller’s sea eagle. Here they can be found in Russia, China, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
Breeding takes place on the Kamchatka peninsula.
Their breeding habitat is on sea coasts and inland around lakes and major rivers. They make use of mature trees to nest. Steller’s sea eagles may also be found inland near mountains.
Breeding takes place from February through to August. Pairs of Steller’s sea eagles are monogamous and come together to breed each year.
They will display at the start of the breeding season by flying above the breeding area while calling.
The pair will build two to four nests throughout their breeding territory and they alternate the nest they use each year. The nests will be built on a rocky cliff or large tree. It is formed from thick branches. An eagle nest is known as an aerie.
In to this nest the female lays between one and three eggs. The eggs are colored greenish-white. These eggs are incubated for an average of 38 days. The chicks remain in the nest for 70 days before they fledge. Both parents are involved in raising the chick.
Hatchlings are covered by downy gray-white feathers which transition to brown before becoming the adult plumage around the time of sexual maturity.
Sexual maturity is reached between six and seven years old.
These birds are solitary outside of the breeding season. Congregations may form around areas where salmon are in abundance outside of the breeding season. A group of Steller’s sea eagles is called a ‘constellation.’
Steller’s sea eagles are active during the day.
During winter these birds will migrate to a warmer area.
A Steller’s sea eagle will create a range of vocalizations such as a deep-barking cry and gull-like call.
Predators and Threats
Adult Steller’s sea eagles have no recorded predators. Eggs and hatchlings will face predation from arboreal mammals such as martens and birds such as crows.
Steller’s sea eagles are threatened through habitat destruction and modification. An increasing threat is from the development of hydroelectric power projects.
Other threats include pollution such as heavy metals. Overfishing has decreased their food sources. This has created a secondary issue as they move inland to hunt mammals. They may scavenge for deer which have been shot by hunters which can lead to lead poisoning.
The name Steller’s sea eagle comes from an 18th-century zoologist and explorer, Georg Wilhelm Steller.
Sea eagles are also known as fish or fishing eagles, the white-shouldered sea eagle or the Pacific eagle.
It is thought that the Steller’s sea eagle evolved on Russia’s northeastern coast and have remained there through several ice ages.
Top and Middle One
By Sammy Sam at Picasa Web Albums –
BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10608159
By Saschathegerman – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76501910
Photo Gallery Left
By Pen Waggener from Shelbyville, KY, USA – Steller's Sea Eagle at the
Louisville Zoo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92045534
Photo Gallery Right
By Julie Edgley – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76606894
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Nelson, D. 2008. “Haliaeetus pelagicus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 10, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Haliaeetus_pelagicus/
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Owlcation – Education. 2021. Everything You Wanted To Know About The Steller’s Sea Eagle. [online] Available at: <https://owlcation.com/stem/Birds-of-Prey-Stellers-Sea-Eagle> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021. Eagle | Characteristics, Habitat, & Facts. [online] Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/animal/eagle-bird#ref1002848> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
Animals.sandiegozoo.org. 2021. Steller’s Sea-Eagle | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/stellers-sea-eagle> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
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