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White-tailed Eagles in the Nemuro Strait of Hokkaido, Japan: Video Introduction

This video, titled "White-tailed Eagles" (オジロワシ), was uploaded by "Gaiapress Channel." Along with footage of white-tailed eagles living in Hokkaido, it provides detailed explanations of their ecosystem. It's a great opportunity for those interested in nature and the birds of Hokkaido to learn more about the area. Be sure to read on to learn more.

The White-tailed Eagle

Image of a white-tailed eagle
Photo:A white-tailed eagle

The white-tailed eagle is a bird belonging to the Accipitridae family and the Pandionidae genus. It lives near coastlines, rivers, and lakes, and is often found alone or in pairs. It is a carnivore and feeds on fish, birds, mammals, animal carcasses, young hares, and quail chicks.
[Video] 0:12 - The White-tailed Eagle

The white-tailed eagles’ size ranges from 80cm for males to 94cm for females, with a wingspan of 180-220cm. They have a distinct call, with males making a "gri-gri-gri" sound and the females a "gra-gra-gra-gra" sound.

White-tailed eagles that breed in northern Eurasia migrate to areas around China and the Persian Gulf for the winter. In recent years their breeding rate has decreased, and they have been designated as a domestic endangered wild animal species, as well as a protected species since 1970.

The Habitat of White-Tailed Eagles and Where to See Them in Japan

Image of a white-tailed eagle catching a fish
Photo:A white-tailed eagle catching a fish

On the Nemuro Peninsula, located between the Shiretoko Peninsula and Kunashir Island, you can see drift ice that has drifted southward from the Amur River. In the video, you can see white-tailed eagles on the drift ice as well.
[Video] 0:27 - White-tailed Eagles on Drift Ice

The natural habitat of white-tailed eagles is Eurasia, Europe and East and West Asia. In Japan, they mostly migrate to northern Japan, and in Hokkaido, they breed in small numbers.

It takes 6-7 years for white-tailed eagles to become fully mature birds. When they are young, they have brown tail feathers, but when they become adults, their tail feathers turn white and their beaks turn yellow.

Feeding Habits of Japanese White-Tailed Eagles

In the video, you can see white-tailed eagles congregating, targeting fish lurking under the sea ice. The Nemuro Strait is home to a thriving pollock population, and white-tailed eagles gather there to take advantage of the abundant supply of pollock.
[Video] 2:07 - A White-Tailed Eagle Stalking a Walleye Pollack

Birds of the hawk family that feed primarily on fish are called sea eagles. White-tailed and Steller's sea eagles are typical examples of sea eagles, and salmon and cod are their favorite catch. You can see them preying on them in the video.
[Video] 2:43 - A White-Tailed Eagle Feeding

White-tailed Eagles and Steller's Sea Eagles Occupying the Nemuro Peninsula

On the Nemuro Peninsula, coastal areas where fishing is carried out are inhabited by crows and seagulls, but about 6 miles offshore, there are birds of prey such as white-tailed eagles and eagles. White-tailed eagles occupy and settle down in favorable locations, such as high places with good visibility or suitable winds in snowy weather.

A Group of White-Tailed Eagles Flying Above a Nest

Image of a white-tailed eagle flying through the skies
Photo:A white-tailed eagle flying through the skies

In the video, you can see a group of white-tailed eagles gathering in the mountains. Their nest is located in a place far from the sea.
[Video] 4:25 - White-tailed Eagles Gathering in the Mountains

"Kettle" is the word used to describe a group of eagles or hawks rising together like a thermal updraft and flying into the sky. In the case of white-tailed eagles, they also form "kettles" regardless of migration. One of the characteristics of white-tailed eagles is that multiple adult birds can be found perching on one tree.
[Video] 4:49 - A Kettle of White-tailed Eagles

Facts About White-tailed Eagles and Their Vision

The video also talks about the white-tailed eagle's vision. White-tailed eagles are known for their narrow upward sight, and it's believed that their eyes do not work in situations with little contrast, such as snowstorms.
[Video] 6:05 - Regarding the Sight of White-tailed Eagles

White-tailed eagles are also known to fatally crash into wind turbines. Most accidents involve hitting a wind turbine from above, which seems to be related to the narrowness of their visual field. Such accidents are commonly known as "bird strikes."

Difference Between White-tailed Eagles and Steller's Sea Eagles

Image of Stellar's sea eagles eyeing fish from above the drift ice
Photo:Stellar's sea eagles eyeing fish from above the drift ice

The bird with white shoulders is the Steller's sea eagle, and the bird that looks brownish all over is the white-tailed eagle. Both are large birds of prey that have wingspans over 2 meters when fully spread. If you visit the Nemuro Peninsula for sightseeing, you'll now be able to tell the difference with this information!
[Video] 0:51 - White-tailed Eagles and Stellar's Sea Eagles

White-tailed eagles, have many similarities to Stellar's sea eagles, such as not being susceptible to avian influenza. However, there are differences in minor details, such as the fact that they move in flocks and have gentle personalities.

Summary of White-tailed Eagles

Hokkaido, where this video was shot, is home to a variety of wildlife and plants. On the Nemuro Peninsula, in addition to white-tailed eagles and Stellar's sea eagles, there are also tours for bird watching. You can see wild birds such as the red-crowned crane, the red-flanked bluetail, and the hazel grouse. Take a trip to the wilderness of Hokkaido and enjoy bird watching in winter!

Written By
Last Updated : Feb. 16, 2023
有田 和義(Kazuyoshi Arita)
A 40-something writer who loves entertainment
Learn About the White-Tailed Eagle's Ecosystem and More. See It Soaring Through the Skies Above the Nemuro Strait in Hokkaido, Japan
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