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Common Name : White-bellied Sea Eagle     -       Scientific Name : Haliaeetus leucogaster       -       Other Name : Muhudu Rajaliya (S), White-breasted Sea Eagle (E)
Kali Villu
Kali Villu
Demata Wila
Thimbiri Wila

This is a resident species ranging from India through South-east Asia to Australia. Other than in Sri Lanka it is found in India, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Guinea and Australia.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as Least Concerned (National Red List 2012).

The White-bellied Sea Eagle is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

This magnificent eagle is found along the coast, along the large rivers and sheets of water in the lowlands up to an altitude of about 470 meters. I have seen it at Kandy and around the lakes at Victoria, Rantambe and Randenigala. More recently, it is regularly seen above the lakes close to the Parliament and is known to breed in proximity to this locality. It is found at all the dry zone national parks. In the North I have seen it in the Mannar Island, Jaffna Peninsula, Delft Island and the Eluvathivu Island. This eagle can be found along the coast as well as at all the large inland water bodies.

In Wilpattu it is found at most water bodies and along the coast as well. I once observed one hunting a Little Cormorant at Kokkare Villu. Around 2.30p.m. I arrived at Kokkare Villu and observed a White-bellied Sea Eagle that was circling above, diving on a Little Cormorant that was flying just above the surface of the water. The cormorant dropped into the water but the eagle kept on circling above the water for about 5 minutes and caught the bird as it came up for air.

At Pomparippu I once observed one of these eagles being pursued by another while it was carrying a large sea snake in its talons.

This is not a difficult bird to photograph on its perch. At locations such as Mahapatessa, Demata Wila and Kudapatessa, one or two of these eagles can be seen perched on exposed branches overlooking the water. However, to capture the essence of their beauty, one needs to photograph them on the wing.