Wedge Tailed Eagle
The wedge tailed eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in the world with a wing span of 2.3 meters, it has a black with tawny plumage with cream feathers in places, including a prominent diagonal band across the inner wing. An adult female can weigh up to 4.2 kilos, it’s male counterpart being slightly smaller at an average of 3.2 kilos. Its distinctive wedge tail that is about 40cm in length, other distinctive features are it’s powerful claws and legs for hunting, can recognize the eagle.
As a fledgling the eagle is a sandy brown, though after it’s infancy period of 70 to 80 days it will begin to turn black.
DISTRIBUTION: Found throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania; also occurs in Southern New Guinea.
CONSERVATION: Still fairly common, with the greatest numbers in the western, central and southern arid regions. In some parts of the country it is now found only in remote locations due to persecution and disturbance. Legally protected in all states.
FEATURES OF THE WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE
Plumage: Black with tawny or cream feathers in places, including a prominent diagonal band across the inner wing.
Flight: Soars high in the air on long, broad wings held in a “V”, with splayed tips and wedge-shape tail fanned.
Nest: Huge platform of sticks, 1-2.5m in diameter. Lined with fresh leaves.
Eggs: 1 to 3, usually 2, whitish, with sparse red-brown to purple blotches.
Weight: Male 3.2kg, Female 4.2 kg.
Sexual maturity: 6-7 years
Breeding season: April- December, depending on location.
No. Of broods: 1.
NO. of eggs: 1 to 3, usually 2, whitish with red-brown to purple markings.
Incubation: 42-48 days.
Fledging period: 70- 90 days.
Habit: Mainly solitary, in pairs or in family groups.
Call: Whistles, shrill screams.
Diet: Chiefly mammals – usually rabbits and hares; birds large lizards, carrion.
Closest relatives are the golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos and Gurney’s eagle Aquila gurneyi.
FACTORS WHICH HAVE LEAD TO THE WEDGE TAILED EAGLE BECOMING ENDANGERED
The major problems associated with the Wedge-Tailed Eagle are shooting, poisoning and trapping. The species is being hunted by poachers for their value and are also hunted by farmers for the protection of their cattle.
There has been a major loss in food supply thanks to hunters who kill the prey and the Eagle suffers from lack of food.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO PROTECT THE WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE
The Wedge-Tailed Eagle is now fully protected in Tasmania, but in other states it remains unprotected in some or all areas. The Western Australia and Queensland bounty was responsible for killing them, and this was not lifted until 1968. It was not until the late 1960's and 1970's that killing the Wedge-Tailed Eagle was banned in Australia. The species is now protected everywhere in Australia.