Many people dream of seeing a bird like the Steller’s Sea Eagle. Even being far in the sky, it amazes everyone with its power, because this species is one of the most massive and largest. All birds of the hawk family also attract with their extraordinary beauty and lightning speed. But first of all, it is important to note that this representative of hawks is a very cruel predator. Well, let’s take a closer look at the life of the Steller’s sea eagle.
Origin of the species and description
The name of the species that is used today did not appear immediately. At first, the bird was called the Steller’s Eagle because it was discovered during an expedition to Kamchatka led by the famous naturalist Georg Steller. By the way, in many countries it is still called that. In English, his name is — Steller’s sea eagle.
Females and males acquire the same color only at the 3rd year of their life. As chicks, they have brown feathers with white bases with buffy streaks. Adults are predominantly brown, like most hawks, with the exception of the forehead, lower leg, and wing coverts. It is the white plumage in the upper part of the wing that distinguishes this species from the rest of the hawk family.
Despite the fact that the Steller’s Sea Eagle is a very powerful bird, it has a rather “modest” voice. From this bird you can hear only a quiet whistle or scream. It is interesting to note that chicks have a much coarser voice than adults. According to experienced scientists, changes in the voice occur during the so-called “changing of the guard”.
Appearance and features
Like all other sea eagles, Steller’s sea eagles are quite massive. However, in size, it is still slightly larger than its relatives in appearance. The total length of the bird’s skeleton is approximately 110 centimeters, and its weight can even reach 9 kilograms. The Steller’s Sea Eagle has incredibly beautiful light brown eyes, a massive yellow beak and yellow paws with black claws. Thanks to its long fingers, the bird can easily hold its prey, hitting its vital places with its back claw.
Interesting fact: The Steller’s sea eagle has a very prominent yellow beak. It is visible to a person even in very heavy fog. The fishermen of the Far East took advantage of this. If they saw a flying bird with a bright yellow beak, then this signaled to them that they were soon approaching land.
Due to its large size, the bird is not able to travel long distances. As a rule, they fly only about 30 minutes a day. It is this factor that makes individuals nest as close as possible to the shore or any body of water, although this is not safe, because usually there are a large crowd of people in these places. namely white “shoulders”, body length and wingspan, as well as an incredibly yellow beak. Its graceful, leisurely flight brightens the skies of settlements near water.
Where does the Steller’s sea eagle live?
Such a bird as the Steller’s sea eagle can be found near the Kamchatka region:
- Kamchatka Peninsula
- Coasts of Magadan Region
- Khabarovsk Territory
- Sakhalin and Hakkaido Islands
The bird lives mainly in Russia. Only during periods of winter nights it can be found in countries such as Japan, China, Korea and America. Their nests are mainly located on the coast in order to minimize the distance to the nearest source of water.
Note that other representatives of the genus of eagles and the hawk family are distributed throughout the globe. Each species needs its own climate in which it would be comfortable to live.
Most often it is in Kamchatka that you can meet tourists, photographers or researchers who came here to see such a rare bird as Steller’s sea eagle.
What does the Steller’s sea eagle eat?
The diet of Steller’s sea eagles is not distinguished by its diversity, rather, it is rather scarce. In most cases, birds prefer to eat fish. Steller’s sea eagles are not endowed with the ability to dive, so they are forced to snatch prey with their paws that floats on the surface or periodically jumps out of the water.
The eagle feels best during the spawning of salmon fish. During this period of time, he completely excludes other options for his diet. It is interesting to note that the Steller’s sea eagle also does not mind occasionally eating dead fish.
From time to time, the Steller’s sea eagle may feast on birds such as ducks, gulls or cormorants. Mammals are also included in its diet, but this type of hawk eats them less often than anything else. Among his favorites are baby seals.
Character and Lifestyle Features
As already described above, the Steller’s sea eagle is very attached to the sea coasts. It is generally believed that this happened due to the fact that it is in these very places that there is usually the largest accumulation of fish that it feeds on. Most often, their settlements are located at a distance of no more than 70 km from the water.
Despite the fact that the Steller’s sea eagle is considered an independent bird, this species of the hawk family does not hibernate alone. As a rule, birds gather in groups of a maximum of 2-3 individuals each and move closer to the sea. During the cold season, the Steller’s sea eagle can also be seen in the taiga, on the coasts of Japan and in the south of the Far East.
Steller’s sea eagles build their nests on powerful trees. The building process is not completed as quickly as other birds. This species of eagles can build its nest for several years until it reaches a gigantic size. If their housing has not collapsed after the change of season, they prefer to stay in it.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The Steller’s sea eagle is a non-conflict bird. They can live at a great distance from each other, however, if there is a place with a large concentration of fish nearby, then the distance from nest to nest is noticeably reduced.
This species does not take prey from each other, but may conflict with others members of the eagle family. Researchers have repeatedly noticed a picture when a Steller’s sea eagle decides to take prey, for example, from white-tailed eagles.
In cold times, birds tend to live close to each other. They usually congregate in fish gathering areas. The process of the meal itself is also peaceful, because usually there is a lot of prey and there is enough for everyone.
Steller’s sea eagles begin their “family” life at the age of 3-4 years. Pairs often build special ritual nests, but do not often live in these very places. The nesting process itself usually takes place at the 7th year of the life of the species. Most often, couples have 2 nests that replace each other.
Incubation begins with the first egg. Steller’s sea eagles feed their chicks with small fish. Despite the fact that parents take great care of their children, they are often preyed upon by predators such as stoats, sables and black crows.
Natural enemies of Steller’s sea eagles
As you know, eagles are the largest birds of prey, so they have practically no natural enemies. However, there are many other factors that interfere with their normal life in the natural environment.
Take, for example, the fact that this genus is at the top of the food chain. It is because of this that a large amount of toxins accumulate in their body, which can cause negative consequences for the functioning of their internal organs. By the way, these same toxins are found in the organisms of the animals they eat.
Population and species status
Like most species of the hawk family, the Steller’s sea eagle is vulnerable. As we mentioned above, this representative of the fauna has practically no natural enemies, therefore the main threat is man. People build factories that pollute water bodies and interfere with the normal nutrition of these birds. Previously, some peoples also shot Steller’s sea eagles, as their feathers served as an excellent decoration. Even today on the territory of Russia there are cases of ruin and fall of nests due to unorganized tourism.
Many scientists are focused on increasing the number of this species. Reserves are being built in which birds are cared for. These measures are applied in several regions that are known for their environmental pollution.
Steller’s Sea Eagle Conservation
Today, the Steller’s sea eagle is on the IUCN Red List, a threatened species of birds in Asia, as well as in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. According to the latest collected data, only 5,000 birds of this species inhabit our planet. Most likely, this number changes in a positive direction every year.
The Steller’s sea eagle has received VU conservation status, which means that the bird is in a vulnerable position, at risk of becoming endangered. Most often, animals in this category have difficulty breeding in the wild, but their numbers in captivity continue to increase steadily.
As with any other species listed in the Red Book, there is a list of measures that will help increase the population species:
- Increase the number of captive individuals for their subsequent breeding
- Restriction of unorganized tourism in the habitats of the species
- Increased penalties for hunting an endangered species
- Creating favorable conditions for the Steller’s sea eagle in the wild, etc.
In conclusion, I would like to say that the Steller’s sea eagle is very beautiful and rare a bird that needs our care. It is necessary to protect nature and enable all creatures to continue their race. All species of birds of the hawk family need increased control, since most of them can also be found in the lists of endangered animals of the Red Book of Russia. Nature is beautiful and multifaceted, so you need to take care of each of its creations.