Scientific Name of the White-headed Eagle


The white-headed eagle, also known as the white-tailed eagle or sea eagle, is a majestic bird of prey found in various regions of the world. In this article, we will explore the scientific name of this magnificent bird and delve into its taxonomy, habitat, physical characteristics, behavior, diet, and conservation status.


The white-headed eagle belongs to the genus Haliaeetus, which comprises large birds of prey commonly known as sea eagles. The specific scientific name of the white-headed eagle is Haliaeetus leucocephalus. The genus name, Haliaeetus, is derived from the Greek words “halos” meaning sea and “aetos” meaning eagle, referring to the bird’s preference for coastal habitats. The species name, leucocephalus, is a combination of the Greek words “leukos” meaning white and “kephalos” meaning head, describing the distinctive white feathers on its head.


The white-headed eagle is a widespread species found in various habitats across North America, Eurasia, and Northeast Asia. It prefers to inhabit coastal areas, such as estuaries, bays, and sea cliffs, but can also be found near large inland lakes and rivers. These birds require large territories with access to both open water and suitable perching sites, such as tall trees or cliffs.

Physical Characteristics

The white-headed eagle is one of the largest bird species in the world, with an average wingspan of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters). Adult birds have a distinctive white head and tail, contrasting with their dark brown body and wings. Juveniles have a mottled appearance with a predominantly brown plumage, which gradually changes as they mature. These eagles have powerful curved beaks, strong talons, and piercing yellow eyes.


White-headed eagles are known for their impressive flying abilities and spectacular hunting techniques. They are skilled at soaring and gliding, using thermal updrafts to conserve energy during long flights. These eagles are often seen perched high on trees or cliffs, scanning the surrounding areas for prey. They are solitary birds, but during the breeding season, they form monogamous pairs that defend their nesting territories.


White-headed eagles are opportunistic predators and primarily feed on fish, although they are known to prey on small mammals and birds as well. They are adept at hunting near water bodies and can plunge into the water from great heights to catch fish. These eagles also scavenge on carrion and may steal food from other birds or mammals. Their powerful beaks and sharp talons enable them to catch and tear apart their prey.

Conservation Status

The white-headed eagle has faced significant population declines over the years due to various factors, including habitat loss, pollution, and illegal hunting. It was once critically endangered in some regions but has shown signs of recovery thanks to conservation efforts and legal protections. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists the white-headed eagle as a species of “Least Concern” globally, but some regional populations are still considered vulnerable or endangered.


The scientific name of the white-headed eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, reflects its preference for coastal habitats and its distinctive white head. This magnificent bird of prey is known for its large size, impressive flying skills, and remarkable hunting abilities. While it has faced conservation challenges in the past, efforts are underway to protect and preserve this iconic species for future generations to admire and appreciate.

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