The only thing a Steller’s Sea Eagle has in common with the Sesame Street character is the colour of its beak and talons and its size. This is by far the biggest bird I have ever been near to and I certainly had the wrong lens fitted for getting all of it into a shot!
These eagles live on the coasts of north east Asia with a large population in the far east of Russia and feed mainly on fish and water birds. The one I came across was at the National Bird of Prey Centre in Yorkshire and it was huge. They are on average the heaviest eagle in the world weighing up to 20lbs and can stand up to 3 ft 5 inches tall with a wingspan of about 3 ft 3 inches.
As a fish eating eagle they have spiracles on the underside of their feet. These are wavy ridges which allow them to grasp fish which might otherwise slip from their talons. They are generally brown to black in colour which contrasts sharply with the white patches on their wings, legs and tail.
This one was being fed while I was there and was tucking into dead hen chicks which on most occasions it swallowed whole but did pull one apart for my delectation! (I’ve kept the more gory pictures on file).
They didn’t fly the eagle the day I was there but when they do they probably have to tell parents with young children to keep a tight hold on them!!