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The Australian version is the White Breasted Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus Leucogaster. These huge birds are found along almost everywhere along the Australian coast and down to Tasmania. They only reject the cold, dry and extremely rough coast along the Great Australian Bight. They also range inland over the Kakadu wetlands in the north, and the Murray-Darling river system in the southwest. Their range also extends into Asia, as far as India and southern China.

They can often be seen from coastal cliffs, soaring above the ocean, often in pairs. They're enormous birds, over 80cm long with a wingspan well over twice that. The body, head, neck, tail and underside of the wings is bright white, the back and top of wings is black. The eyes and huge, rather vicious looking beak and feet are black. The call is loud and ringing, sometimes described as a 'clang'. During the breeding season pairs perform sustained duets while in the air. They breed between May and October, their nests massive constructions of sticks high in trees or inacessible cliff ledges.

They hold their wings in a "V" shape while gliding, often to great heights in cliff-top thermals. They fly with slow, powerful wingbeats. They're also extremely agile in the air for such large birds, able to stoop with great precision on fish near the surface, snatching them in their talons. They've also been observed harrassing smaller seabirds to make them drop their catch. They're aggressive birds, particularly when defending their nests. Both sexes take turns guarding the nest and fishing.

Sea" ea"gle (?).

1. Zool.

Any one of several species of fish-eating eagles of the genus Haliaeetus and allied genera, as the North Pacific sea eagle. (H. pelagicus), which has white shoulders, head, rump, and tail; the European white-tailed eagle (H. albicilla); and the Indian white-tailed sea eagle, or fishing eagle (Polioaetus ichthyaetus). The bald eagle and the osprey are also sometimes classed as sea eagles.

2. Zool.

The eagle ray. See under Ray.


© Webster 1913.

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