1224. Haliaetus leucogaster.
The White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
Falco leucogaster, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 257 (1788). Falco blagrus, Daudin, Traits; ii, p. 70 (1800). Haliaeetus blagrus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 65. Ichthyaetus cultrunguis, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xi, p. 110 (1842). Blagrus leucogaster, Blyth, Cat. p. 30; id. Birds Burma, p. 64. Haliaetus leucogaster, Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 56 ; Jerdon, B. L i, p. 84; Ball, J. A. S. B. xii, pt.' 2, p. 276; id. S. F. i, p. 53; vii, p. 199; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 307; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 17; Gurney, Ibis, 1878, p. 453; Hume, Cat. no. 43; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 32; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 67; Simson, His, 1882, p. 90; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 199; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 161; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 42. Cuncuma leucogaster, Hume, Rough Notes, p. 259; id. N. & E. p.48; id. S. F. ii, p. 149; iv, pp. 423, 461; Armstrong, S. F. iv, p. 298.
The Grey-bached Sea-Eagle, Jerdon; Kohassa, H.; Samp-mar, in Orissa; Ala, Tarn, and Tel.; Loko-rajaliya, Oing.; Kadal-Ala, Tam. in Ceylon.
Coloration. Head and neck all round, lower parts, and terminal third of tail white, sometimes with narrow dark shafts on the neck and breast; back and wings dark ashy tinged with brown, quills and basal two-thirds of tail blackish.
The young are brown above, many of the feathers with fulvous edges, broadest and whitish on the head; ear-coverts dark; lower parts fulvous or rufous white, more or less mixed with brown, the upper breast all brown; tail white or whitish, with the terminal portion brown but pale tipped.
Bill dark leaden; cere paler; irides hazel-brown; legs and feet whitish (Legge). There is no ruff around the neck; the wings extend to (or according to Jerdon beyond) the wedge-shaped extremity of the tail. Tarsus scutate in front almost to base of toes, and a patch of irregular broad scutes behind.
Length of female about 28, tail 11, wing 22.5, tarsus 3.7, bill from gape 2.3; male smaller, wing 21.
Distribution. Coasts of India, Ceylon, and Burma, from near Bombay to the Malay Peninsula, and throughout the Malay Archipelago to Australia, Tasmania, and Western Polynesia. Reports of the occurrence of this species in Africa have not been confirmed.
Habits, &c. This is the Sea-Eagle of the Indian Seas, very common on the coasts and especially on islands, rare inland, though it occasionally appears to stray up the rivers and has been found breeding at Dacca by Simson, whilst Ball records it from Chutia Nagpur. It lives chiefly on fish and sea-snakes, which it captures from the water, but it will also eat dead fish or crabs, and it not unfrequently robs the Osprey of its prey. It has a loud clanging cry, chiefly uttered in the breeding-season from October to February. It lays two whitish eggs, deep green when held before a light, and measuring about 2.81 by 2.07, in the usual large nest of sticks, placed on a tree and lined with green leaves, the same nest being used for many years in succession.