The White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and also known as the White-bellied Fish-Eagle or White-breasted Sea Eagle, is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.
About White-Bellied Sea Eagle:
- It is a large diurnal bird of prey.
- Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucogaster
- IUCN Status: Least Concern
- They are found throughout Southeast Asia.
- They range north to south from southern China to Australia and Tasmania, and west to east from India to New Guinea.
- Their range includes the islands of Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
- They live primarily in terrestrial habitats near the ocean, especially coasts, islands, and estuaries, but they also live in forested areas with access to smaller bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, and rivers.
- Most white-bellied sea eagles live at elevations around 900 m, with the highest elevation recorded at 1,700 m.
The White-bellied sea eagle has both a white head and underparts (hence their name), along with dark grey wings. The two sexes are similar in color and appearance, although males are smaller than females. Juvenile White-bellied sea eagles differ from adults, and have a brown color before mature into adults.
This species of eagle is only active during the day. Unless gathered in areas with lots of food, they are only seen individually or in pairs and are described as a fairly inactive species. They perform an array of different dives in order to catch prey after gliding along the water. They mainly feed on fish, but have also been observed feeding on turtles, sea snakes and small mammals or birds.
The White-bellied sea eagle reproduces in monogamous pairs (only one partner during their lifetime) and breed from January to June (or later in some parts of Australia). Nests are usually built in tall trees from sticks/twigs and reused each time they build a nest. 1-3 eggs are laid and incubated for 6 weeks. Once hatched, both White-bellied sea eagle parents will feed them for 60-70 days until they are ready to leave the nest. They are fully independent at 3 months and can live up to 20 years.
Ecosystem Role & Human benefits
White-bellied sea eagles, like other predators, have the vital ecological role helping control levels of prey species. If birds of prey like the white bellied sea eagle went extinct, aquatic species would reproduce more and therefore consume more of their own prey or food source (exponential growth in fish populations can lead to over-grazing of coral reefs), altering the entire ecosystem and potentially causing a lot of damage.
MCQs about White-bellied Sea Eagles
Question 1: What is the scientific name of the bird species commonly known as the White-bellied Sea Eagle?
a) Haliaeetus albus
b) Haliaeetus leucogaster
c) Accipiter gentilis
d) Pandion haliaetus
Question 2: Where are White-bellied Sea Eagles primarily found in terms of geographic distribution?
a) North and South America
b) Europe and Africa
c) Southeast Asia
Question 3: What type of habitats do White-bellied Sea Eagles primarily inhabit?
a) Grasslands and savannas
b) Mountainous regions
c) Urban areas
d) Coastal and forested areas
Question 4: What is the main diet of White-bellied Sea Eagles?
b) Small mammals
d) Seeds and fruits
Question 5: How do White-bellied Sea Eagles reproduce and care for their young?
a) They lay eggs in underground burrows and abandon them
b) They build nests in the open and leave eggs unattended
c) They lay 3-5 eggs and incubate them for 2 months
d) They breed in monogamous pairs, lay 1-3 eggs, and both parents care for the young