Steller's Sea Eagle Studies (Asia)


Steller's eagles fitted with wing tags 
and colour rings

Since 1991, Natural Research biologists, in cooperation with Russian and Japanese scientists, have studied Steller's Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus pelagicus) in the Far East.  Since 1994, in close cooperation with the Magadan Zapovednik (Strict nature reserve) large-scale surveys and monitoring have been undertaken as well as satellite radio tracking and individual marking.   These studies have helped conservation efforts on the breeding grounds and wintering areas where poisoning from ingestion of lead from firearms is a problem.   In 2005 NR funded a pilot study during the early spring. It is thought that this time may be most important in determining whether Steller's eagles breed because it is when they return from wintering grounds to breeding areas that are still in the grip of the Russian winter and prey availability may be low.

Dr. Irina Utekhina, Magadan Zapovednik

Beginning in 2006 we have partnered with San Diego Zoo to conduct more research. We are currently tracking juvenile Steller's sea eagles via satellite. These satellite radio tags should provide data for up to 4 years, and will give us further insight into the ecology of long-lived delayed maturity raptors in the years prior to breeding. The young eagles started moving from their natal areas in early October. Click on these two links to find out more information, and 

Natural Research biologists have been working on Steller’s sea eagles breeding in the Far East of Russia for almost 20 years. This effort has been funded in a patchwork way, but we have designed our work to ensure that, at a minimum, we can collect field data on occupancy and productivity of the eagles nesting within the Kava-Chelomdze portion of the Magadan State Reserve in every year.

In recent years, support from San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo has allowed us to maintain this work, purchase equipment (new boat and motor) to ensure that we can continue to reliably collect data year after year, and to fit some eagles with satellite transmitters.

Steller's sea eagle tracking and research Feel free to contribute to the blog.

Drs. Eugene Potapov and Mike McGrady, NR

In 2011 we were tracking two Steller’s sea eagles: a third year bird and an adult. The third year bird apparently perished while on its southerly migration and may have been caught by bad weather. The adult spent its winter on the southern Kuril Islands off the east coast of Hokkaido. It started its northerly migration and in late April was on the sea ice near Shantar Island, about half way back to its summering grounds. Since then the temperature readings of the transmitter suggest that either the tag has been lost and is lying on the ice or the eagle has perished. You can follow the movements of these birds by visiting our blog:

In summer 2011 Dr. Irina Utekhina and Dr Eugene Potapov  surveyed the Steller's sea eagle population around Magadan, especially on the Magadan State Reserve (Zapovednik).


Note: Biologists from San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo and Natural Research are members of the Eagle Conservation Alliance. Click here to learn more.

For further information please contact

Photos: Top: M. McGrady Bottom: E. Potapov

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