A fierce, impressive raptor with chocolate-brown plumage and striking white shoulders and tail. The Steller’s Sea Eagle averages 13-20 lbs (with females being roughly a third larger than males), and measures almost four feet from head to tail. With its deep, strongly arched bill and massive yellow feet, it’s no wonder that the Japanese call this bird O-washi (The Great Eagle).
When it comes to birds, it’s hard to answer the question, “Who is biggest?” One bird might weigh the most, while another has a greater wingspan, and another still is longer nose-to-tail. Even so, anyone who has traded stares with our adult female, Aleutia, already knows that Steller’s Sea Eagles are one of the largest species of eagle in the world. On average, a Steller’s Sea Eagle outweighs both the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) and the Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle (Pithocophaga jefferyi), while its average wingspan is second only to its near-cousin the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) (Steller’s = 7.0 feet, White-tailed = 7.2 feet). Not surprisingly, an adult Steller’s Sea Eagle has no natural predators.
Despite its impressive proportions, the Steller’s Sea Eagle is still vulnerable to changes in its habitat and food supplies. Such a huge eagle needs an equally huge territory, so the Steller’s population (which is not large) is widespread and particularly sensitive to habitat loss due to climate change. In addition, threats to already declining Pacific Salmon populations translate into potential prey shortages during the all-important breeding season.