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11. Sep 2022

Hokkaido Trivia – The Largest Birds of Prey in Japan

Steller’s Sea Eagles and White Tail Eagles are the largest birds of prey in Japan.  The wingspan of Steller’s Eagle is about 2.5 meters and that of White Tail Eagle is about 2 meters.  Not only their size, but also their bright colored beaks and the white feathered diamond shaped tails (as well as the white shoulder of the Steller’s Eagle) are truly eye striking.

It’s a symbolic winter scene in eastern Hokkaido along the Okhotsk Sea, including Abashiri, to see them perched on a drift ice or at the ice fishing site on the frozen lake waiting to grab any fish that the fishermen left behind. 

They’re basically winter birds that fly into Hokkaido from the further north and spend the winter here.  In eastern Hokkaido, we see them quite often during the winter season from November to March.  You can even see them soaring up high in the residential areas.

Some of the White Tail Eagles make their homes here instead of flying back after winter and you can see them throughout the year. I saw them quite a number of times this summer at the port and at the beach of Okhotsk Sea. They were all young birds still dressed in their juvenile plumage, but at one glance you can realize that they’re White Tail Eagles.  Still young, but they have such an imposing posture and the dignity of a matured eagle!

If you’re traveling in eastern Hokkaido, especially in winter, you’ll come across these huge birds many times.  So watch carefully.  Even if you’re not an outdoor type of person, these wild beings can really make your activities in Hokkaido so much more exciting.