White-tailed Eagle

Haliaeetus albicilla

  1. Wildlife
  2. Birds
  3. Birds of prey
  4. White-tailed Eagle


Our largest bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle, sometimes known as the 'sea eagle', was persecuted to extinction in the UK; in 1916 the last female was shot on the Isle of Skye. It was reintroduced during the 1970s from Norway and around 40 pairs now nest in Scotland thanks to huge conservation efforts. Good places to spot the white-tailed eagle include the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland where it hunts for fish, mammals and small birds.

How to identify

A massive and impressive bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle has broader wings than the golden eagle with which it shares its home. Adults have a white, wedge-shaped tail and a pale head with a yellow beak. They are more likely to be found near the coast than the golden eagle.

Where to find it

A very rare bird, found on the west coast of Scotland.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

White-tailed eagles were persecuted to extinction, only surviving in the UK thanks to a successful reintroduction programme. These birds are still threatened, however, as our wetland and coastal habitats continue to degrade and pollutants build up in the food chain, affecting these and other apex predators. The Wildlife Trusts work closely with fishermen, farmers, landowners and developers to ensure that our rare wildlife is protected. You can help this vital work by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
White-tailed Eagle
Latin name
Haliaeetus albicilla
Birds of prey
Length: 80-90cm Wingspan: 2.2m Weight: 4.3-5.5kg Average Lifespan: 20-25 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and listed under CITES Appendix I.