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Steller's Sea Eagle

Steller's Sea Eagle
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-11-21
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2010-12-06 7:52
Viewed: 3652
Points: 54
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Hello Friends,
First of all I want to thank you for all the positive words and encouragement you gave me at my last posting. I appreciate it very much. I will start my fifth year with this photo. I hope you like it.

This Steller’s Sea Eagle is eating his prey. It is a pigeon. I could hear the cracking of the bones.

The Steller's Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus, is a large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It lives in coastal northeastern Asia and mainly preys on fish. It is, on average, the heaviest eagle in the world, at about 4.9 to 9 kilograms (11 to 20 lb; 0.77 to 1.42 st), but often lags behind the Harpy Eagle and the Philippine Eagle in other measurements. This bird is named after the German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, and two subspecies have been named.

Description, systematics, and status
Stellers' Sea-eagle is the biggest bird in the Genus Haliaeetus and is one of the largest raptors overall. The typical size range is 86.5 to 105 centimetres (34.1 to 41.3 in) long and the wingspan is 203 to 241 centimetres (80 to 95 in). On average, females weigh from 6.8 to 9 kilograms (15 to 20 lb; 1.07 to 1.42 st), while males are considerably lighter with a weight range from 4.9 to 6 kilograms (11 to 13 lb; 0.77 to 0.94 st). An unverified record exists of a huge female, who apparently gorged on salmon, having weighed 12.7 kilograms (28 lb; 2.00 st). Two subspecies have been named: the nominate pelagicus, and the Korean Sea-eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus niger. The latter name was given to the Korean population which was apparently resident all year and lacked white feathers except for the tail. Its validity is disputed; it may have been a morph and not a genetically distinct population. In any case, the Korean population of this species is extinct since the 1950s due to habitat loss and hunting.

The relationships of Steller's Sea-eagle are not completely resolved. mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data tentatively suggests that this species's ancestors diverged early in the colonization of the Holarctic by sea eagles. This is strongly supported by morphological traits such as the yellow eyes, beak, and talons shared by this species and the other northern sea-eagles, the White-tailed and Bald Eagles, and biogeography.

Distribution and habitat
Steller's Sea Eagle breeds on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the coastal area around the Sea of Okhotsk, the lower reaches of the Amur river and on northern Sakhalin and the Shantar Islands, Russia. The majority of birds winter further south, in the southern Kuril islands and Hokkaidō, Japan. That being said, the Steller's Sea-eagle is less vagrant than the White-tailed Eagle, usually lacking the long-range dispersal common in juveniles of that species.

The large size (see also Bergmann's Rule) suggests that it is a glacial relic, meaning that it evolved in a narrow subarctic zone of the northeasternmost Asian coasts, which shifted its latitude according to ice age cycles, and never occurred anywhere else. It is unique among all sea eagles in having a yellow bill even in juvenile birds, and possessing 14, not 12, rectrices. The skull and bill are the largest of any eagle and comparable to the largest Old World vultures, the biggest accipitrids.

The birds have been found in North America but this are considered to be individual eagles that have strayed from Asia, and they are not known to nest anywhere in North America.

This species is classified as Vulnerable. The main threats to its survival are habitat alteration, industrial pollution and over-fishing. The current population is estimated at 5,000 and decreasing.

The Steller's Sea-eagle mainly feeds on fish. Favored prey include salmon (Onchorhynchus spp.), trout and cod. Besides fish, it also preys on water-dwelling birds (including ducks, geese, swans, cranes and gulls), various mammals, crabs, squid and carrion. This eagle may prey on young seals, but seals are generally more likely to be eaten as carrion.

This eagle builds several aeries (height, 150 cm; diameter up to 250 cm) high up on trees and rock. It is possible that the eagles change occasionally between these nests.
After courtship, which usually occurs between February and March, the animals lay their first white-green eggs around April to May. Usually only one chick survives. After an incubation period of around 39 – 45 days the chicks hatch, having ash grey to white down. As young birds the down changes to brown feathers and at an age of around ten weeks, the young birds learn to fly. They reach sexual maturity at around four to five years. Full adult plumage in the Steller's Sea Eagle only appears at age eight to ten years.
Eggs and nestlings can be preyed on by arboreal mammals, such as martens, and birds, usually corvids. Once fully grown, the eagle has no natural predators.

Source: Wikipedia

Argus, zulfu, jaycee, marius-secan, siggi, joska, boreocypriensis, CeltickRanger, eqshannon, Miss_Piggy, maurydv, uleko, Pitoncle, maaciejka, vanni2009, Luis52, Adanac has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-12-06 7:56]

Hello Peter,
I had recently seen a BBC film on Russian wildlife and the Steller's Eagle was featured. It made me think how wonderful it would be to see it! In Swedish it is called the 'jättehavsörn', the Giant Sea Eagle. Its massive bill and other features are well seen in this shot, which is nice to view.
Thanks and have a good week,

halo Peter
mooi opname van deze grote vogel
super details en mooie kleuren
leuke opname met prooi
groetjes lou

Hi Peter
The bird is magnificent and your photo is fantastic.
Regards Christodoulos.

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-12-06 9:15]

Hello Peter, excellent capture of this raptor in a fine composition with great details.
TFS and R's,

Ciao Peter.
Grande foto come il rapace che hai fotografato,stupendi colori ottima nitidezza come la composizione BELLA BELLA.
Alla prossima foto ciao Marco.

Hello Peter,
Fantastic photo. Excellent clarity and focus. Amazing detail and very good focus.
Wonderful bird of prey this Steller Eagle. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-12-06 9:54]

Hi Peter,

A wonderful beginning to year #5! You are introducing me to an Eagle I wasn't aware of. A fantastic close-up of him devouring the poor pigeon. Great views of that beak, eye, and beautiful plumage. He needs someone to clean up after him.


  • mwmod99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 655 N: 3361] (14196)
  • [2010-12-06 10:13]

What an incredible powerful bird Peter! Good day! You did manage to capture the Steller's Sea Eagle from a good point of view. I really like that image. It has some drama in it. The colors, especially on the grass looks quite saturated however. Thanks for your that post and have a great week!
George Veltchev

Ciao Peter, you begin your fifth year with a great caqpture of superb eagle, wonderful colors, fine details and excellent sharpness, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

Ciao Peter. Impressive, dramatic one! Exciting colours results in good DIF.


  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-12-06 11:47]

Hello Peter,
Great capture of this magnificent bird, superb sharpness, excellent depth of field and wonderful details, beautfiul colors, nice light and fantastic action.Best regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • pvb Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 385 W: 16 N: 531] (1981)
  • [2010-12-06 11:53]

Hoi Peter,
Prachtige opname. Ondanks dat deze vogel gebogen staat kan je toch zien dat het een grote vogel is. Zeer mooie heldere kleuren en op naar de volgende 5 jaar.
groetjes Paula

  • Great 
  • joska Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 806 W: 0 N: 4092] (22535)
  • [2010-12-06 12:18]

Hi Peter,
Excellent photo of this very big and interesting Steller’s Sea Eagle, TFS!

Woww..superb action capture of this magnificent raptor Peter.
Poor pigeon but that's nature! TFS and have a nice night!


Hellp Peter,
Wow!... You can hear the cracking of the bones!... I call this "illustrate a picture with words!".
Good shot, an eagle in intersting eating action, very weell!
Nice coloros, correct focus and very suitable vertical cut.
Regards, TFS

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-12-06 15:24]

Hi Peter,what a strange and unusual position,very interesting moment and very strange and nice specie too,a beautiful work taken whit the usual great quality.Thanks for share,have a nice day,Luciano.

Originalidad en la pose y en la composición de este trabajo.
Un abrazo.

hello Peter

excellent close-up photo, shot at the best
moment of this Eagle's pose, fine POV
appropriate framing, superbly focused
with great sharpness and details,
très jolies couleurs éclatantes, TFS


Strong jaws this one! Quite the predator. You seemed to have captured more of it's personality...rather than simply a picture. You have a way about that.

Hallo Peter
I really like the variety of birds you have in your gallery and which you share, this image Steller's Sea Eagle being one of them. I like the closeness of your subject showing clear details and emphasise the features that needs to be highlighted. The yellow colour on its beak and the very sharp details of its plumage is only two prominent things I want to point out that is really great looking at, but there are many more. I just love all the bright colours. Thanks for sharing. Best regards.

Great photo of this magnificent bird, nature in action, well done!

Hallo Peter,
a very good picture of this wonderful bird of prey, excellent detail on the plumage and splendi natural colours, noce close composition
Best regards

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-12-07 2:56]

Hello Peter,
You can really see how big this beautiful bird of prey is as it hardly fits into the frame!! As Ivan mentioned we just saw it on a film and it was really majestic! A fine capture showing it in action and details and colours are excellent.
TFS and best wishes, Ulla

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-12-07 5:51]

Hello Peter,
wow...what a dramatic capture showing the habit and the strength of an eagle.
Excellent feathers on its back. I like the strong yellow beak that tearing the meat away.
Well presented in superb view and excitement of a watching a bird.


Bonjour Peter,
Impressionnante scène de la vie sauvage magnifiquement restituée sous une belle lumière et une excellente profondeur de champ.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

Hi Peter,
very nice photo of this bird. Also interesting situation - something like "lunch". Amazing composition, beautiful colours. Interesting background.
Thanks for sharing,

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2010-12-07 15:09]

Hola Peter.
Never seen this big eagle before. I guess it was a wonderful for You to see in real life.
TFS My friend

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2010-12-07 18:55]

Hello Peter,
What an amazing eagle with an incredible large beak, I sure wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a bite. Nice image Peter, thank you.

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