Tails From The Zoo

A Sea Eagle Update May 7, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Exhibits,Teacher's Resources,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 11:33 pm
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Now that the eagles have landed in their new home at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, I thought it would be good to update our Steller’s sea eagle fact sheet. So here you go!

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At the Assiniboine Park Zoo:

  • The relocation of our sea eagles places them into the Asian area of the Assiniboine Park Zoo, across the path from our Amur tigers.

Stanley:

  • Our male came to us in 2006 from the Lieberec Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was born in 2005.

Stella:

  • Our female came to us in 2005 from the Tallinn Zoo in Estonia. She was born in 2003.

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Fast Facts:

  • Scientific name means “Eagle of the open seas”
  • The Steller’s sea eagle has been designated a national treasure in Russia. They are also honoured in Japan where they are known as “O-Washi”.
  • Persecuted by hunters and poachers for stealing trapped animals.
  • They are diurnal (active during the day)
  • Adult eagles have about 7000 feathers.
  • They are named after Georg Steller (1709-1746), a German biologist. He also lent his name to the Steller’s jay, Steller’s sea lion (endangered), Steller’s eider (a type of duck – vulnerable), and the Steller’s sea cow (extinct).

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Status in the Wild: Vulnerable

  • Wild population estimated at 5000 and dropping according to the IUCN.
  • The wild population is declining due to habitat loss, water pollution (from DDT/PCB’s), over-fishing (loss of prey), lead shot hunting (lead poisoning from scavenging) and other factors.

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Sea Eagles:

  • Steller’s sea eagles (Haliaeetus pelagicus) are one of eight species of sea eagle
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is also known as the Pacific eagle and the white-shouldered eagle.
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is considered the most powerful and aggressive of its cousins, the bald eagle and the white-tailed sea eagle
  • This group frequent coasts, lakes and rivers
  • This species is dark brown but dramatically coloured when mature with a white tail, white shoulders, white rump, and white thighs

Stella and Stanley inspect one of their new nest boxes. Photo by Darlene Stack, Assiniboine Park Zoo

Height, Weight, Length:

  • Males: weigh up to 6kg
  • Females: weigh up to 9kg
  • Females average 2 to 4kg larger than males
  • Steller’s sea eagles are amongst the largest and heaviest eagles in the world. They are similar in size to the Philippine eagle and the harpy eagle from South America.

  • Adult Steller’s have an average wingspan of 2.3 metres (7.5 ft)
  • Females have a larger wingspan than males
  • Sea eagles stand 85 to 94cm high

Distribution:

  • Russia: Kamchatka / Amur river, Northern Korea, China and Japan
  • Breeds in Russia and over winters in Japan

Maturity:

  • 4 to 5 years for sexual maturity
  • 6 to 8 years for adult plumage

Sea Eagle Diet:

  • 80% fish (e.g. cod), 10% birds (ducks, gulls), 5% mammals, and 5% other (crabs, shellfish, squid, carrion)
  • Like other eagles, Steller’s also steal food from other birds.
  • Four Steller’s sea eagle hunting techniques have been recorded:

1. Diving off a perch for food

2. Flying over the water and picking up food

3. Wading in shallow water for food

4. Stealing food from other birds, a practice known as “kleptoparasitism”

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References:

  • IUCN Redlist, Arkive, Birdlife International, San Diego Zoo, National Geographic Society, Assiniboine Park Zoo Education Library
  • Revised May 3, 2010

Compiled by Scott Gray, Education Director

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