Steller's sea eagle
|Steller's Sea Eagle|
Steller's sea eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) is a bird of prey of the family Accipitridae, and found along the coastlines of the north Pacific Ocean and Bering sea. Known variously as the white-shouldered eagle, white-winged eagle or Pacific eagle, its current name honors the German naturalist who first described it to western science, Georg Wilhelm Steller.
Steller's sea eagle is large; it is the largest species of sea eagle, and possibly the largest living eagle in the world, with ongoing debate between it and the Philippine and harpy eagles as to which one is larger. It has a wingspan of 6 feet 5 inches to 8 feet 2 inches (unsubstantiated reports hint at wingspans in excess of 9 feet), a body length of 2 feet 9 inches to 3 feet 5 inches, and weighs 10.8 to 20.9 pounds. Females are significantly larger than males.
The plumage is dark blackish-brown, with slight light streaks overall. The flanks, upper thighs, tail, and upper and lower wing coverts are white, giving the bird an unmistakable appearance. A dark, almost black color morph exists, whose rarity led science to assume once that it was a subspecies. The very large bill and feet are yellow. Juveniles in the first year of life are brown with white feather bases and ocher streaks.
Steller's sea eagles live primarily on the Asian side of the north Pacific Ocean, from eastern Russia on the Bering Sea (area of the Eiginmyvayam river), southward to the Kamchatka peninsula and the Sea of Okhotsk, to northern Japan and the Korean peninsula. They are vagrants on the Aleutian islands, and are rarely seen on the Alaskan mainland. On the Kamchatka peninsula, it is a resident year round and established everywhere with the exception of the highest mountainous regions. In winter, it can remain within the boundaries of the range throughout Kamchatka, but a significant part of the birds still migrate from the northern regions to the southern part of the peninsula or beyond. Birds from the Magadan coast can fly to Kamchatka for the winter. Steller's sea eagles are also present year-round in the north of Sakhalin and on the continental sea coast in the lower Amur region.