Palla's Fish-eagle

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Image:PallassFishEagle.jpg

Common Name: Pallas's Fish-eagle
Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucoryphus

Size: 28-33 inches (72-84 cm); Wingspan: 71-85 inches (180-215 cm)

Habitat: Asia; occurs across a huge range from Kazakhstan (it may no longer breed there, although a positive trend has been noted in recent surveys), southern Russia (where it possibly still breeds), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan (probably dispersing non-breeders) and Uzbekistan, east through Mongolia and China, south to northern India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is a passage migrant and winter visitor to Nepal and non-breeding visitor to Afghanistan. The main breeding populations are believed to be in China, Mongolia and the Indian subcontinent.

It is closely associated with wetlands, principally large lakes and rivers, from the lowlands to 5,000 m. It generally nests in trees near water.

Status: Vulnerable. Global population: 2,500-9,990 adult individuals with a decreasing population trend. Key threats are habitat loss, degradation and disturbance. Across the Indian subcontinent, and probably most of its range, wetlands have been drained or converted for agriculture and human settlements. The felling of large trees near wetlands has reduced the availability of nest and roost sites. The spread of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a problem in India, as is the siltation of lakes due to catchment deforestation. Pollution of wetlands with pesticides and industrial effluents reduces breeding success. Habitat loss and degradation are compounded by disturbance of wetlands. Reductions in the prey base, primarily through hunting and over-fishing, are further consequences of increasing human pressure. In Myanmar, the development of oil and gas fields is a threat and, in China, hunting is a localized problem. In Mongolia, during surveys in summer 2009, it was noted that two recently completed hydroelectric dams were severely disrupting water levels in the affected drainage basins and could potentially affect all sites where the species occurs in the Great Lake Basin. Over-fishing was also noted at several sites and low rainfall was leading to falling water levels in some areas.

Diet: Large freshwater fish. They also regularly predate water birds.

They are known to hunt in pairs. Sometimes they steal food from other birds.

Nesting: Males and females are alike however females are 25% larger than males. Adults are dark brown, with a warm buffish to whitish head, neck and upper mantle and a blackish tail with broad, white central band. Juveniles are more uniformly dark, with all-dark tail, but in flight they show strongly patterned underwings, with a whitish band across coverts and prominent, whitish primary flashes.

Their call is a loud, creaky "kha kha kha kha" and they are noisy during the breeding season. Pairs are monogamous. The breeding season is October-June in the southern part of their range, March-July in the north, and May-September in Tibet.

The nest is built out of sticks by both parents and placed in a tall tree close to water. It is lined with green leaves, hay, rushes, straw, and fine twigs. Nests are sometimes used for years in a row and can be up to 2 m across and 2 m deep. Clutch size is 2-4 eggs, which are incubated for 40-45 days, by both parents though the female does the majority. The chicks hatch two days apart and the younger always dies due to its inability to compete with the older sibling. Fledging takes 70-105 days and juveniles are dependent on their parents for around 30 days after that.

Cool Facts: Pallas’s Fish-eagles have been seen killing adult greylag geese, by assaulting them on the surface of the water and then flying off with the kill. Since that goose species is slightly heavier than the eagle, this is one of the greatest weight-lifting feats ever recorded for a flying bird.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume IV: Eagles of the World

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