Where to see White-tailed Eagles
Unfortunately they're not in North Devon any more, although they may have breed on Lundy in the past. I've just looked it
up in "The Birds of Lundy" (J.N. Dymond, 1980), apparently there's one in Ilfracombe Museum that was shot on Lundy in c1880.
I saw them in Mull on 11th September 2002.
- earn1s.jpg (200x150) 12/1/06 A picture of the Lundy bird in Ilfracombe Museum. It appears to be a juvenile
- earn2s.jpg (200x150) ditto.
White-tailed Eagle Links
The White-tailed Eagle in Literature
From "The Seafarer" (prob. 9th or 10th Century) [text]
(note: one of the poems in the Exeter Book)
Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew,
There I heard naught save the harsh sea
And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries,
Did for my games the gannet's clamour,
Sea-fowls, loudness was for me laughter,
The mews' singing all my mead-drink.
on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern
In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed
With spray on his pinion.
From "The Battle of Brunanbruh" (937) [text]
The Northmen went off in nail-bound ships,
sad survivors of spears, on Ding's mere,
over deep water seeking Dublin,
Ireland again, ashamed in their hearts.
So both brothers together,
king and atheling, their country sought,
the land of Wessex, in war exulting.
They left behind them sharing the lifeless
the dusk-dressed one, the dark raven,
with hard beak of horn, and the hoar-coated one,
white-tailed eagle, enjoying the carrion,
greedy war-hawk, and that grey beast,
the wolf of the wood.
Peter Kropotkin (1902) "Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution" [text]
However, associations which do not extend beyond the family bonds are of relatively small importance in our case, the more
so as we know numbers of associations for more general purposes, such as hunting, mutual protection, and even simple
enjoyment of life. Audubon already mentioned that eagles occasionally associate for hunting, and his description of the two
bald eagles, male and female, hunting on the Mississippi, is well known for its graphic powers. But one of the most
conclusive observations of the kind belongs to Syevertsoff. Whilst studying the fauna of the Russian Steppes, he once saw
an eagle belonging to an altogether gregarious species (the white-tailed eagle, Haliactos albicilla) rising high in the air
for half an hour it was describing its wide circles in silence when at once its piercing voice was heard. Its cry was soon
answered by another eagle which approached it, and was followed by a third, a fourth, and so on, till nine or ten eagles
came together and soon disappeared. In the afternoon, Syevertsoff went to the place whereto he saw the eagles flying;
concealed by one of the undulations of the Steppe, he approached them, and discovered that they had gathered around the
corpse of a horse. The old ones, which, as a rule, begin the meal first -- such are their rules of propriety-already were
sitting upon the haystacks of the neighbourhood and kept watch, while the younger ones were continuing the meal, surrounded
by bands of crows. From this and like observations, Syevertsoff concluded that the white-tailed eagles combine for hunting;
when they all have risen to a great height they are enabled, if they are ten, to survey an area of at least twenty-five
miles square; and as soon as any one has discovered something, he warns the others.(12*) Of course, it might be argued that
a simple instinctive cry of the first eagle, or even its movements, would have had the same effect of bringing several
eagles to the prey. but in this case there is strong evidence in favour of mutual warning, because the ten eagles came
together before descending towards the prey, and Syevertsoff had later on several opportunities of ascertaining that the
whitetailed eagles always assemble for devouring a corpse, and that some of them (the younger ones first) always keep watch
while the others are eating. In fact, the white-tailed eagle -- one of the bravest and best hunters -- is a gregarious bird
altogether, and Brehm says that when kept in captivity it very soon contracts an attachment to its keepers.
William Horwood (1982) "The Stonor Eagles"