The white bellied fish eagle is a commonly sighted bird in the Whitsundays. Witnessed cruising around the Whitsunday air, this giant predator grows to a 2 meter wingspan and can stand nearly one metre in height. It is a truly majestic raptor, is the second largest bird of prey found in Australia and can be found right here in the Whitsundays.
As a famous Whitsunday local, this sea bird inspired the adopted name of our local football team "The Whitsunday Sea Eagles." It's a much loved bird by many and is truly an amazing sight to see.
The sea eagle catches its prey when it comes close enough to the surface of the sea that the bird is able to spot it and target it. It captures it by seizing with its talons right from the water without even getting wet. These birds are noticeable by their white head, white rump and white underparts as well as the dark grey on the back and wings. When the bird is in flight, you can see from below its black flight feathers, which enable to to manoeuvre the air so easily. The large, hooked bill is grey with a darker tip, and the eye is dark brown. The legs and feet are cream-white, with long black talons. Young sea eagles are brown, and take up to four years to gain their adult plumage.
Keith Roberts from Whitsunday Catamarans said "by far these are my favourite birds... they are so impressive to watch as they hunt and soar majestically through the skies".
White-bellied sea eagles make large nests in trees or on coastal cliffs that can often be seen if you know what you're looking for. They feed mainly off of aquatic animals, such as fish, turtles and sea snakes, but it will hunt and eat birds and mammals as well. Sea eagles are skilled hunters, known to take down prey much larger than them. They will harass smaller birds like Ospreys, forcing them to drop any food that they are carrying, also making them an opportunistic and clever hunter... Sea-eagles feed alone, in pairs or in family groups, depending on if they are mated or not.