Lake Argyle, WA

White-Bellied Sea Eagle

I hired a boat on Lake Argyle in Western Australia recently, and along with the many fresh water crocodiles along the shores, there were many birds of prey soaring above me, including Whistling Kites, but the one that caught my eye the most was this magnificent White-Bellied Sea Eagle.

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White-Bellied Sea Eagle

The White-Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), as found in Western Australia, is a remarkable avian species that graces the coastal regions, including Lake Argyle. With its impressive size and wingspan reaching up to 2.2 meters (7.2 feet), it stands as one of the largest birds of prey in the region. This majestic raptor boasts a predominantly brown plumage, contrasting with its iconic white belly that gives it its name.

Known for its soaring flight, the White-Bellied Sea Eagle possesses exceptional aerial prowess. It effortlessly glides through the sky, utilizing thermal updrafts to cover great distances while scanning the surrounding waters for its primary food source—fish. Equipped with sharp, hooked beaks and powerful talons, these eagles are skilled hunters, swooping down to snatch fish from the surface or even plucking them from the water with their talons.

In addition to their piscivorous diet, these magnificent eagles are also known to scavenge and occasionally prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They have been observed perching on trees or rocky outcrops near water bodies, using these vantage points to spot potential prey or defend their territories.

White-Bellied Sea Eagles are highly territorial and form monogamous pairs, often mating for life. They construct large nests made of sticks, located in tall trees near the water. These nests can grow over time, reaching impressive sizes as the eagles continue to add to them year after year.

These eagles play a vital role in the ecosystem of Western Australia’s coastal areas. By controlling fish populations and scavenging carrion, they contribute to the overall balance and health of their habitats.

Encountering a White-Bellied Sea Eagle in Western Australia is a sight to behold. Its powerful flight, regal appearance, and connection to the pristine coastal landscapes make it an emblematic species of this breathtaking region.

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