Wedge-tailed Eagle

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Wedge-tailed Eagle
Missing image
Wedge-tailed Eagle

Scientific classification
Species:A. audax
Binomial name
Aquila audax
(Latham, 1802)

The Wedge-tailed Eagle or Arrawa (Aquila audax) is a very large Australasian raptor and the most common of all the world's large eagles. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail. Both because of its size—it is one of the largest birds in the world—and because of the pointed tail, it can be identified at a glance as a "Wedgie" even by the non-expert.

As with many raptors, the female is much larger than the male, averaging around 4.2 kg and sometimes over 5 kg. Males are typically around 3.2 kg. Length varies between 0.9 and 1.1 metres, wingspan from 1.8 to 2.5 metres.

Young Wedge-tailed Eagles are a mid-brown colour with slightly lighter, reddish-brown wings and heads and wings. As they grow older, they become gradually darker, reaching a dark blackish-brown shade after about ten years. Adult females tend to be slightly paler than males.

Wedge-tails are found throughout Australia and southern New Guinea in almost all habitats, though they tend to be more common in lightly timbered and open country in southern and eastern Australia.

They are highly aerial, soaring for hours on end without wingbeat or effort, regularly reaching 6000 feet (2000 m) and sometimes considerably higher. The purpose of this very high flight is unknown.

Most prey is captured on the ground in gliding attacks or (less frequently) in the air. Choice of prey is very much a matter of convenience and opportunity: since the arrival of Europeans, the introduced rabbit and Brown Hare have become the primary items in many areas, but Wedge-tails eat almost anything of a suitable size, live-caught or as carrion.

They display considerable adaptability, and have sometimes been known to team up to hunt animals as large as the Red Kangaroo; to cause goats to fall off steep hillsides and injure themselves; or to drive flocks of sheep or kangaroos to isolate a weaker animal.

Carrion is a major diet item also: Wedge-tails are able to spot the activity of ravens around a carcass from a great distance, and glide down to appropriate it.


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