Just a little way into our voyage each day we pause by the nest of our resident White Bellied Sea Eagles. Located a little past Parsons Cove (or as the locals call it: The Fisheries), the nest is perched in the top of a huge gum tree with a view that we can only imagine is completely dazzling. They usually have more than 1 nest in an area but this particular nest has been in use now for about 3 years.
Sea Eagle nests can be up to 14ft deep and 8ft wide, they are used for breeding, feeding and sleeping, and act as a territorial flag. White Bellied Sea Eagles mate for life, they court year round but reach a peak in early spring. 1 – 2 eggs are laid in September with an incubation time of 40 – 44 days. Regretfully, the first egg to hatch usually kills the second so it is rare that more than one offspring is produced per year by any given eagle couple. Once out of the egg, the fledgling stays in the nest for around 95 days, after which they are still largely dependent on their parents for another month or 2. It’s a rough world out here for the young eagles and mortality is high, but if they make it, they will live for up to 30 years.
They are not migratory birds so we get to watch them all year, they are easy to spot with their enormous wing span and distinctive patterning.
The species is protected, but considered secure. It’s estimated that Tasmania has around 200 pairs. Part of what has helped to secure these amazing birds is their diverse breeding habits and the fact that about 20% live in national parks and reserves. Because of it’s protected status, we record and report all our sightings to the nature conservation branch in Tasmania.