White-tailed eagle

White-tailed eagle in flight

©Amy Lewis

White-tailed eagle with chick

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

White-tailed eagle

Scientific name: Haliaeetus albicilla
The huge white-tailed eagle is our largest bird of prey. Persecuted to extinction in the UK, it has been successfully reintroduced in Scotland. Look for it on the Isle of Mull and off the west coast of Scotland.

Species information


Length: 80-90cm
Wingspan: 2.2m
Weight: 4.3-5.5kg
Average lifespan: 20-25 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


Our largest bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle is sometimes known as the 'sea eagle', and preys on fish, mammals and small birds. It was persecuted to extinction in the UK, but reintroduced from Norway during the 1970s. Today, around 40 pairs now nest in Scotland. Both parents tend to the one or two chicks that hatch each year.

How to identify

A massive and impressive bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle has broader wings than the golden eagle, with which it shares its home. Adults have a white, wedge-shaped tail and a pale head with a yellow bill. They are more likely to be found near the coast than the golden eagle.


Found on the west coast of Scotland.

Did you know?

A white-tailed eagle's territory may be up to 70 square kilometres! White-tailed eagles mate for life and breed in the same territory each year. This territory may even be used by successive generations for many more years to come.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with fishermen, farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is both protected and provides benefits for people. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.