Haliaeetus albicilla | White-tailed Eagle | Iolar mara



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result. 

Species Biology


Largest raptor in Ireland.

This impressive raptor sits at around 1 metre in height with a wingspan of over 2 metres.

The smaller male can weigh up to 5 kg with the larger female weighing up to 7 kg in some individuals.

The body is typically brown in colour with a pale, whitish head and neck and white tail feathers (hence the name).


This species is highly opportunistic and will prey on a wide variety of species such as fish, birds, rabbits and hares to name a few.

In addition to hunting, it will feed on carrion from various species such as sheep and seals.

The White-tailed Eagle has also been known to use its size to steal prey items from other species and take eggs from nests.


The White-tailed Eagle can be found along coasts, large lakes and rivers. This is why they are sometimes referred to as White-tailed Sea Eagles. 


The female lays a clutch of two eggs that will incubate over a period of 38 days. The young fledge after 70-75 days.

The eggs laid by this large species can weigh approximately 142 grams.

Conservation actions

Killarney National Park facilitated their reintroduction in 2007. This reintroduction programme saw 100 young eagles released in the National Park which were then free to disperse as they pleased. This programme produced mixed results in terms of establishing a strong breeding population (NPWS, 2021).

As of July 2020, a small breeding population has successfully fledged chicks across Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway and Tipperary (NPWS, 2021).

Building on the original phase of this reintroduction programme (2007-2011), phase 2 saw the release of more young individuals from multiple sites across Ireland. Each individual was tagged for ease of tracking (NPWS, 2021). These individuals were shown to spread across Munster and northwards along the Shannon River (NPWS, 2021).


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Historically, this species was widespread along the Irish coast but became extinct as an Irish species at the start of the 20th Century.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



NPWS, 2021. White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction (Second Phase). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Jun. 2021].