White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle at Nuuk, February 2008. Photo: Lars Maltha Rasmussen.

Biologist Aili Lage Labansen holds a dead eagle. Photo: Lars Maltha Rasmussen.

Haliaeetus albicilla

The largest bird in Greenland. Belongs to the raptors.


The White-tailed Eagle in Greenland is on average larger than the other birds within this species distribution.


Dark brown plumage, dark tail and bill.

Young eagle with dark tail. Ohoto: Lars Witting.


Light brown plumage, pale hale, white tail and yellow bill.

White-tailed old Eagle at Nuuk, October 2008. Photo: Lars Maltha Rasmussen.


200 -245 cm. Females being larger than males.


3,1-6,1 kg.


The oldes ringed eagle from Greenland became 21 years. From Europe a Sweedish bird became 28 years old.


Fish, especially trout and Uvak, gulls eiders, guillemots, arctic fox and hare.


Incubation periode from beginning of April. 1-2 eggs in one clutch. Hatching after 38 days, young fly af 75 days and are still fed another 40 days.


White-tailed Eagle is distributed from Greenland in the West, in Iceland, and from northern Europe across Asia to the Bering Strait in the East. In North America, the close relative the Bald Eagle is widely distributed. In Greenland White-tailed Eagle breeds along the South-west Coast from the southern point to Nassuttooq /Nordre Strømfjord. There is a single breeding record from Illulisat in Disko Bay. Most old breeding eagles are sedentary, while young birds stray to the south to winter. White-tailed Eagle prefer to breed along the coast, but pairs are also found inland near lakes and rivers. The nest is placed in cliffs or on low tops with a good view. White-tailed Eagle is assumed to have reached Iceland and Greenland after the last glaciations about 5-8000 years ago.

Population size

The total population is estimated to 150 -200 pairs.

Vulnerable periods

White-tailed Eagle is especially sensible to disturbances at the nest from the beginning of March to the beginning of July, where a single visit may cause the birds to leave the nest.


Poisoning with lead bullets through ingestion of seabirds, illegal hunting and disturbances at nest.


White-tailed Eagle has been totally protected since 1973.