The white tail eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla, a type of sea eagle) is an Asian/ European bird of prey from the family Accipitridae. The white tail eagle has a 5-8ft wingspan, the largest of all the eagles and can weigh anywhere between 3-7kg. Despite its wingspan, the white tail eagle is considered to be only the fourth largest eagle in the world. White tail eagles are mostly grey-brown with the exception of the white tail and yellow beak and feet. They have an average lifespan of 21 years though they have been know to live up to 25 and 26. The white tail eagle is of the order Falconiformes, meaning birds of prey. There are over 290 bird species within this order.
The white tail eagle is a paired species with the bald eagle although they have several key differences. The most obvious are that bald eagles eat mainly fish, have a distinct white-feathered head and, unlike the white tail eagle, are native to America/South America. Both species are considered sea eagles.
Favoured habitats of the white tail eagle include areas near lakes, coasts or rivers with nests built in cliffs or tall trees. A unique feature of eagle nests is that of reccurence: eagles may return to the same nest year after year, increasing it in size and weight dramatically. Their diet varies between fish, small mammals and other birds. There are a roughly estimated 30,000 white tail eagles worldwide, spanning areas as far apart as the United Kingdom, Russia, Finland, Norway and Japan.
The white tail eagle has had a difficult relationship with humans in the past. Due to human population of wetlands, increased prevalence of wind farms, human infrastructure, logging practises and indiscriminate poison usage, white tail eagles were at one point classified Near Threatened by Birdlife International. However, a recent drive towards protection and conservation of many eagle species has lead to the classification in 2005 of Least concern, also shared by the bald eagle. The population of white tail eagles is continuing to increase in Europe as a direct result of these efforts.