Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wedge-tailed eagle

Aquila audax

Photo by Julian Robinson (Oz Animals)

Common name:

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This species is found throughout mainland Australia, Tasmania and southern New Guinea.

The wedge-tailed eagle is 87-105 cm long and has a wingspan of 1,8-2,5 m. They weight 2,5-5,3 kg.

These birds are found in a wide range of terrestrial habitats, including savannas, forests, rainforests, and mountainous regions, though they show some preference for more open areas such as woodlands or grasslands. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.000 m.

Wedge-tailed Eagles eat both live prey and carrion. Their primary prey is the introduced European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus and other medium-sized mammals, such as wombats, bandicoots, and bilbies. They will also hunt lizards, smaller birds, and sick or weakened lambs. In groups, wedge-tailed eagles have even been known to hunt animals as large as kangaroos. Road kill and carcasses of lambs are also a main food source.

These birds breed in April-October. They are monogamous, mating or life, building a huge stick nest, lined with leaves, placed on a tall tree up to 73 m above the ground, but sometimes also on cliff ledges, hillsides, or even on the ground. The female lays 1-3 white eggs with reddish-brown spots, which are incubated for 42-45 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, 75-95 days ater hatching, and in lean years the first hatched young may kill his siblings either through out-competing them for food or through direct aggression. The chicks will remain dependent on their parents for 3-6 weeks after leaving the nest.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The wedge-tailed eagle has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 100.000 individuals. The population is increasing owing to the introduction of rabbits and deforestation. However it is still persecuted in parts of its range through shooting, trapping and poisoning of carcasses.

No comments:

Post a Comment