White-tailed sea eagle


The white-tailed sea eagle breeds in North Europe and in Asia. In Finland the white-tailed sea eagle can be found in archipelagos, in the regions of Satakunta as well as in the Kvarken Archipelago and on the shores of large lakes also in Lapland. According to its name, it prefers coastal seaside areas as its habitat. It feeds mainly on fish, but eats also water birds and small mammals and carrion. Adult white-tailed sea eagles are non-migratory, wintering in their nesting areas, or by closest open waters. Young white-tailed sea eagles, however, are migratory. The white-tailed sea eagle nests in sturdy-branched pine trees, or even on rocks or cliffs. It uses the same nest for years, even for decades, the nest growing ever bigger with new twigs and branches it brings home to.


The white-tailed sea eagle is a protected species. Nowadays it is listed as endangered species in Finland. For decades the greatest threats for the species were persecution (poaching and harassment) and also the pollution of the environment through the poisons DDT, PCB and mercury, especially in the 1950-1970’s. These poisons reached also the Baltic Sea, and eventually the white-tailed sea eagle on top of the food chain. In 1975 the white-tailed sea eagle didn’t hatch out a single young one on the Finnish coastline, and only 30–40 couples were counted. There were about 250 couples nesting in Finland (2008) and in 2007 the white-tailed sea eagle hatched out 245 young ones! Nowadays the total estimate of white-tailed sea eagles in Finland is about 1000 individuals, all and all 1500 couples nesting around the Baltic Sea regions. A great merit of this belongs to the WWF White-tailed sea eagle protection team’s efforts. For over 20 years the WWF team has worked for a healthier Baltic Sea ensuring clean and healthy food for the white-tailed sea eagle. In addition, nesting areas have been protected, and the use of DDT and PCB has been prohibited.


In case the water in the nesting area freezes, the white-tailed sea eagle moves further down south to open waters.

White-tailed sea eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla




SIZE: Weight: 3-6kg, wingspan: 190-250cm, females larger than males.

BREEDING: The female lays 1-3 eggs in March-May, incubation period: 38-45 days and nights; also the male hatches the eggs.

LIFESPAN: According to ringing data, the oldest white-tailed sea eagle has lived to 28 years of age.

Did you know that the great peril for the white-tailed sea eagle, for a time, was the chemical properties of mercury which caused the eggshells to become brittle? The poison got carried along the industrial discharge and watershed from fields into the sea, and then further into the white-tailed sea eagle on top of the food chain; the weight of the white-tailed sea eagle hatching the eggs became to be too much, and the eggs crashed.