University of Oulu

Ekblad, C., Tikkanen, H., Sulkava, S. et al. Diet and breeding habitat preferences of White-tailed Eagles in a northern inland environment. Polar Biol 43, 2071–2084 (2020).

Diet and breeding habitat preferences of White-tailed Eagles in a northern inland environment

Saved in:
Author: Ekblad, Camilla1; Tikkanen, Hannu2; Sulkava, Seppo3;
Organizations: 1Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
3Espoo, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-08


Many apex predator populations are recolonizing old areas and dispersing to new ones, with potential consequences for their prey species and for livestock. An increasing population of the White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) has settled north of the Arctic Circle in northern Finland, mainly at two big water reservoirs but also in areas with mainly terrestrial habitat. We examined nesting habitat preferences and prey use of White-tailed Eagles in this environment, where reindeer husbandry is a traditional livelihood and concerns are rising that the growing White-tailed Eagle population poses a threat to reindeer calves. Lakes, peat bogs, and marshlands were preferred habitats in the nesting territories. Fish constituted 64.3% of the identified prey items, with birds accounting for 28.5% and mammals 7.2%. The nesting territory habitat within a 10 km radius and the latitude influenced the prey composition at both the group and species level. The occurrence of reindeer calves as prey increased with latitude but was not associated with any habitat. Knowledge of the diet and territory preferences can be used to predict future dispersal and local prey use of this species. Nesting White-tailed Eagles do not seem to pose a threat to traditional reindeer herding, but further research is needed regarding non-breeding sub-adults and whether the White-tailed Eagles actually kill reindeer calves or simply exploit their carcasses.

see all

Series: Polar biology
ISSN: 0722-4060
ISSN-E: 1432-2056
ISSN-L: 0722-4060
Volume: 43
Issue: 12
Pages: 2071 - 2084
DOI: 10.1007/s00300-020-02769-1
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: The fieldwork was conducted with funding from the Ministry of Environment (project to TL), and funding for the research and writing was obtained from Svenska Kulturfonden and Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica (to CE). Open access funding provided by University of Turku (UTU).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit