We witnessed the courtship of a young pair of White-tailed Eagles in Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the week before Easter. They turned around in the air, clasped claws and flew in circles. Later they landed together in a heath not far from where we parked our car.
The White-tailed Eagle reaches puberty around the age of six, finds a mate and starts a life long relationship. The eagle usually stays in the same area and its territory is huge. The couple more or less stay in their territory or near it the whole year round. Competition for the best territories is hard. Sometimes they might stray from their territories in October to December but they come back before courtship begins again in January.
The eagle’s courtship begins with a spectacular exhibition of arial agility early in spring, followed by mating and breeding. Such shows of arial competence are also seen among other birds of prey and ravens.
This week we went on a tour around Snæfellsnes peninsula. Within a 30 km drive we saw five White-tailed Eagles, adults and young ones. Since these birds were one of the reasons for our trip we thought we were quite lucky when we at last spotted three of them on the second day. As we were driving over the mountain from the Northern side of the peninsula we saw three birds gliding in the air directly in front of us and lowering their flight as they came nearer. What an amazing sight, – such majestic birds.
White-tailed Eagles are more common in this area than in other parts of the country, their main breeding territory being around Breiðafjörður Fjord. In total around 75 pairs breed in Iceland and two thirds of the population in the area around Breiðafjörður.
– More on the second sighting coming up soon.