085 White-tailed Eagle
(Haliaeetus albicilla)


76-92cm. Very large, with long, broad wings, outer wings well ‘fingered’. Fairly short, bluntly wedge-shaped tail and long neck and heavy bill combine to give characteristic flight silhouette. Head-on, wings flat/somewhat arched (‘arm’ raised, ‘hand’ lowered). Active flight with long series of relaxed, rather shallow wingbeats, now and then relieved by short glide. Characteristic is sudden slight rise or descent of flightpath. Can soar for long periods at supreme height. The adult is brown, with paler, yellowish-brown head and neck. Some upperwing-coverts and feathers of mantle and scapulars irregularly tipped pale yellowish, creating ‘untidy’, scalloped effect. Bill yellow. Tail pure white, or white with brown mottling at base and tip.


In Hungary the White-tailed Eagle breeds in small numbers in the floodplain forests of larger rivers like Danube, Tisza and Dráva, and also in the vicinity of fishponds in Southern Transdanubia. The population has slowly increased since the 1980s as areas in other parts of the country have been reoccupied. Larger numbers overwinter on the Hortobágy, along the Danube and in certain areas of the Southern Great Plain.

085 White-tailed Eagle pic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008