Sanfords Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus sanfordi)

Sanfords Sea Eagle

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Haliaeetus sanfordi | [authority] Mayr, 1935 | [UK] Sanfords Sea Eagle | [FR] Pygargue de Sanford | [DE] Salomonen-Seeadler | [ES] Pigargo de las Salomon | [NL] Sanfords Zeearend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Haliaeetus sanfordi AU Solomon Islands


Members of the genus Haliaeetus are large to very large eagles, with long, broad wings and medium to short rounded or wedge-shaped tails. The bill is large, strong and compressed. The legs are short and the toes and talons powerfully developed

Physical charateristics

Only large eagle in the Solomons. Plain or mottled brown plumage. In flight, the very short tail and rather pointed wings swept upwards in a deep “V” are distinctive. Similar spp. Immature Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus has similar plumage but is smaller and has different flight action. Pied adult White-bellied Sea-eagle H. leucogaster are obvious but immatures differ only in having darker breast than belly, and brown tail (blacker in H. sanfordi) soon developing white base

Listen to the sound of Sanfords Sea Eagle

[audio: Sea Eagle.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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Australasia : Solomon Islands. Haliaeetus sanfordi is endemic to Bougainville and Buka, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands, where it occurs on most islands, including many tiny islets and reefs


It prefers forested coasts where it scavenges and kleptoparasitises Osprey Pandion haliaetus. Some pairs also hunt far inland and others, especially on the eastern islands, appear to have entirely inland ranges where they prey largely on northern common cuscus Phalanger orientalis and perhaps arboreal rats and fruit bats. It also hunts over deforested areas where it is reported to scavenge dead mammals including feral dogs.


The breeding behavior unknown, probably builds a large stick nest in a tree. Courtship displays observed in august. No further data.

Feeding habits

The diet consists of mainly of tideline carrion, fish, molluscs, crabs, tortoises, and sea snakes, and more rarely birds and fruit bats snatched from the rainforest canopy. It has also been reported to feed opportunistically on the Northern Common Cuscus.

Video Sanfords Sea Eagle


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of a small estimated population which is suspected to be declining. It is judged to have distinct subpopulations, some totalling more than 250 birds. If subpopulations are found to be smaller or, conversely, that movement of birds between them means that all birds are in a single population, the species would warrant uplisting to Endangered.
It is threatened by deforestation, which has increased in intensity in recent years. Over-fishing and silt run-off from logging and plantations are also likely to adversely affect it. Hunting for food and occasionally sport is a recent threat with a breakdown of traditional taboos, especially in the lowlands of larger islands. It is also killed in some villages to protect poultry, cats and dogs. It may suffer from competition with humans for the favoured prey-species P. orientalis.
Sanfords Sea Eagle status Vulnerable



Distribution map

Sanfords Sea Eagle distribution range map

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