Birds – The Gray Sea Eagle, Or White-tailed Eagle

(H. Albicilla), also a bird of magnificent size, is found mainly throughout the western portions of the Eastern Hemisphere, and can only lay claim to being North American from its occasional presence in southwestern Greenland. It is distinguished from the former species by the head and neck being a light grayish brown or brownish gray instead of white, and the general coloration less dark. This species formerly nested in England, but they now no longer breed on the mainland, and only one or two pairs are known to inhabit even the outlying islands. It has, says Hudson,a more varied dietary than the Golden Eagle, hunting for food both on sea and land. ” Like the Osprey, he drops from a considerable height on to a fish seen near the surface, and, striking his talons into it, bears it away to land. But he preys more on Puffins, Guillemots, and other sea-fowl, than on fish. He destroys mountain hares, Grouse, and Ptarmigan, and is regarded by the shepherd as the worst enemy to the flock.” The nest is usually in cliffs by the sea-shore, and the eggs are similar in number, size, and color to those of the Bald Eagle.

Other Species. — Inasmuch as the habits of the various Sea Eagles are mainly identical, the present account of the group may be concluded with a brief enumeration and description of the remaining species. Pallas’s or the Ring-tailed Sea Eagle (H. Leucoryphus), which ranges throughout southern and central Asia as far west as the Persian Gulf, the Caspian and Black seas, and is abundant in northern India and Burma, is a smaller species, the male being about thirty and the female thirty-three inches in length. It may be known by having the sides of the head and neck with the chin and throat whitish, but especially by a white band about four inches wide across the tail, some three inches from the end, whence one of its names mentioned above. It frequents mainly the large rivers, tidal creeks, lakes, and marshes rather than the sea-coasts, and feeds largely on fish, with occasional water-birds, frogs, snakes, etc. Still smaller is the White-bellied Sea Eagle (H. Leucogaster) of the coasts of India, Ceylon, and Burma, whence it extends throughout the Malay Archipelago to Australia, Tasmania, and western Polynesia. The head and neck all around, as well as the lower parts and the terminal third of the tail, are white. This species occurs on the coasts, being rare inland, and feeds chiefly on fish and sea-snakes. The African Sea Eagle (H. vocifer) has the head, breast, and the top of the back and tail pure white, while the wings and back are nearly black, and the abdomen and thighs reddish brown. It is found in tropical Africa, frequenting the mouths of rivers, lakes, and other suitable places, feeding on fish, crabs, reptiles, and now and then a young lamb. Somewhat smaller than this is the Madagascar Sea Eagle (H. Vociferoides), which differs from it by having the under parts brown and the lower wing-coverts chestnut.