The magnificent wedgetail

We often see wedgetailed eagles (Aquila audax), alone or in pairs, gliding high on the thermals in our valley. The distinctive wedge of the tail and their size, and the fact that they are often being harassed by smaller birds, gives them away.

Wedgetail eagle at Roxby Downs, South Australia; photo by Rodney Hunt

They are the largest raptors (birds of prey) in Australia, with wingspans measured up to two and a half metres (just over 8 feet).

The wedge-shaped tail gives the bird its name; photo by Rodney Hunt

They eat carrion, so you sometimes see them on roads eating carcasses. Since they can stand up to a metre (three and a quarter feet) tall, they must be impressive to watch close up. They also eat live rabbits (feral and usually plentiful), the very occasional lamb (making them unpopular with farmers) and other small mammals, reptiles and other birds if they can catch them.

Wedgie by the side of the road, probably after carrion, near Roxby Downs, South Australia; photo by Rodney Hunt

It’s another one of those things that makes you go “Wow!” when you see it.

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One Response to The magnificent wedgetail

  1. Kathy says:

    More great photos, Joy. That photo at the top, showing the Wedgetail’s tallons is very impressive! One of the fascinating things about “Wedgies” is how their tallons work. I went to a training course for handling raptors. OHS is always an important part of animal handling… Apparently when a “Wedgie” clutches its prey, its tallons “lock’ shut. Even it it wanted to let go of you, should the tallons lock on you, it could not until a reasonable time has passed… That’s why you see handlers wearing those big gloves. I guess it’s so the prey can’t accidentally drop… but I am only guessing.

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