Whitebellied Sea Eagle

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The White-bellied Sea-eagle, also known as the White-bellied Fish-eagle or White-breasted Sea Eagle, is a large diurnal bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. It is closely related to other eagles, kites, hawks, harriers and Old World vultures. The White-bellied Sea-eagles are found from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, through all of coastal Southeast Asia including Burma, Thailand, Malaysia Indonesia, Indochina, the Philippines and southern China including Hong Kong, and into New Guinea and northeast to the Bismarck Archipelago, and Australia. In the north Solomons, it is restricted to Nissan Island, and replaced elsewhere by Sanford's Sea-eagle. They are a common sight in coastal areas, but may also be seen well inland. Birds are often seen perched high in a tree, or soaring over waterways and adjacent land. It is a distinctive bird. The adult has white head, breast, under-wing coverts and tail. The upper parts are grey and the black under-wing flight feathers contrast with the white coverts. Young Sea-eagles in their first year are predominantly brown. Their plumage becomes more infiltrated with white until they acquire the complete adult plumage by their fourth or fifth year. The loud "goose-like" honking call is a familiar sound, particularly during the breeding season; pairs often honk in unison. They feed on fish and sea snakes, which they catch by skimming over the water and catching their prey with their talons. They do not dive under water, however. They keep within 1 km of shores, as there are no thermals over water. The White-bellied Sea-eagles are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. They are an estimated 10 to 100 thousands individuals, although there seems to be a decline in numbers. Known as Manulab to the people of Nissan Island, the White-bellied Sea Eagle is considered special and forbidden to be killed. Its calls at night are said to foretell danger, and seeing a group of eagles flying overhead calling is a sign that someone has died. A local Sydney name was gulbi, and the bird was the totem of the late 18th century indigenous leader Colebee, of the Cadigal people. A Malay name is burung hamba siput "slave of the shellfish", malay tales told of the sea-eagle screaming at the turning of tides to warn the shellfish. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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