Haliaetus Savign., Hist. Ois. d'Egypte, p. 254 (1809).
Type, Falco albicilla Linn.
Blanford, with some hesitation (Avifauna, iii, p. 367), retained the three Eagles albicillus, leucoryjphus and leucogaster under the one genus Haliaetus. Mathews, however, considers (B. of Aus., v, p. 131) that they are divisible into two genera, Haliaetus for albicillus and Cuncuma Hodgs. for the other two, basing his separation on the differences he alleges to exist in their hills and feet. He does not mention what these differences are but it is obvious that albicillus has comparatively the largest bill of the three and that albicillus and leucogaster have much more powerful feet than leucoryphus. Again, leucoryphas has a well-marked ruff of: lanceolate feathers, albicillus has no definite ruff but has the feathers of the hind-neck and breast lanceolate, whilst leucogaster has no lanceolate feathers at all. It would seem, therefore, that we must either retain all these species in one genus or separate them into three. I accordingly retain all three in the one genus Haliaetus, which has priority.
In the present genus the bill is stout but varies considerably in degree; the culmen is straight at the base and then curved, the festoon variable in individuals but generally well marked ; tarsus stout and feathered on the upper third; scutellated in front and on the toes, reticulated elsewhere; claws grooved underneath in all but varying much in size and strength, being immensely powerful in leucogaster; wings long, third or fourth quill longest, second nearly as long; tail wedge-shaped or rounded.
The genus consists of several species distributed throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Indo-Australian regions and North America. Three species are found in the Oriental region.
Key to Species.
A.Tail all white............... H. albicillus, adult, p. 110.
B.Tail brown with white end............... H. leucogaster, adult, p. 111.
C. Tail brown with a white cross-band………….H. leucoryphus, adult, p. 112.
D. Tail variegated and mottled brown and white.
A.Head nearly always lighter than back............... H. leucogaster, juv., p. 111.
B.Head and back concolorous.
a1. Feathers of breast lanceolate but no ruff ............... H. albicillus, juv., p. 110.
b1. Feathers of breast lanceolate with distinct ruff............... H. leucoryphus, juv., p. 112.