Eagle Patrol

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Woko's picture
Eagle Patrol

About 90 minutes ago I watched, fascinated, a pair of adult Wedge-tailed Eagles slowly patrolling low to the ground over my neighbour's rocky hillside. I haven't seen this behaviour from this species before & I'm wondering if they were looking for scarce tucker, paticularly lizards, for nestlings. It's been extremely cold (not to mention dark) in SA so far this spring so if there are young Wedge-tailed Eagles in the vicinity their survival might be in jeopardy if we don't get some sunshine soon to encourage lizards out onto rocks where they can be detected by the mighty Eagles. 

dwatsonbb's picture

Hi Woko, we regularly see wedgetails circling, presumably as you suggest looking for food, however they are usually very high up, too high to get any decent photos with my gear anyway. In my experience low flying is not that common, they have fantastic eye sight apparently. Would have thought they would need a lot of lizards to survive, but your mainland species are perhaps much larger than ours down here in Tassie. Our masked Lapwings usually alert us to the presence of BOP, often several pairs ganging up on the bigger birds, some stay on the ground to protect young, while others (often 3 or 4) ward off the invaders. We regularly have 3 or 4 pairs (Lapwings) nesting on our 8 acres. Hope they get enough food to raise their young!

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Woko's picture

The Wedge-tailed Eagle pair are daily patrolling the open areas of our valley but coming close to & even flying through our native vegetation causing consternation among Magpies, Red Wattle Birds & Little Ravens. If the Eagles are looking for a nesting site they're more than welcome. 

HelloBirdy's picture

Woko- The Wege-tailed eagles in my area are most often photographed by others feeding on roadkill, kangaroo joeys. They also apparently eat rabbits

Aiming for DSLR-quality shots with a bridge camera

sue818's picture


In the Warrumbungles some years ago (a lot actually), I watched a pair of Wedge-tails circling high before one descended swiftly to take a rabbit. The kill was then taken to a close tree before the bird flew to a much higher tree which on inspection proved to be holding a nest. Next morning saw an expedition to the cliff top above the tree where you could look down on the nest. Sure enough, nestlings with rabbit were quite visible.


Woko's picture

Thanks for those observations, Ryu & Sue.

This morning the Eagles were gliding at a considerable height for a while but then gradually lost height & descended to almost ground level before being lost to my view behind a ridge.

This is a most interesting saga for me & the more I see of their behaviour the more purposeful it seems to be. Or perhaps that's my hope!

GregL's picture

I have seen a wedgetail swooping in for a kill. They tuck their wings in and zoom down very fast with a loud sound of wind rushing over feathers. very impressive and you wouldn't want to be on the other end.

zosterops's picture

some people seem to think they're basically vultures but they are formidable predators

Little Eagles also stoop down onto prey. 

Woko's picture

No sign of the Wedge-tailed Eagles for three days. Perhaps it was just random behaviour rather than anything purposeful. Perhaps there'll be no breeding here - at least for the time being. But I note in Michael Morcombe's Field Guide to Australian Birds that Wedge-tailed Eagles often nest at the head of a gully which is where I've mostly seen them recently.

Woko's picture

All quiet on the Wedge-tailed Eagle front so I've taken some time to do a little research & found that the behaviour I've described is characteristic of the birds patrolling the boundaries of their home range within which is situated their nest. The Wedge-tailed Eagles advertise ownership with high altitude soaring & gliding flights. This is from Wikipaedia & Stephen Debus: Birds of Prey of Australia.

This makes me wonder if there is a nest somewhere in the neighbourhood. Eyes to the sky, folks, in anticipation of seeing a family in flight.

Woko's picture

The two Wedge-tailed Eagles were patrolling low over the rocky hillside again today. What marvelous creatures they are. 

detritus's picture

Glad to hear they're still around and potentially breeding this close to the city, Woko. I accidentally found a breeding pair on some private property quite near the suburbs last year (just driving past and stopping on the side of the road. The owners of the property popped out to see what'd stopped me and they seemed somewhat ambivalent about the situation. I was just really heartened to see the birds going about their business in close vicinity with humans. Usually this would end poorly for the birds but I guess sometimes the birds just knuckle down and get on with life!

Woko's picture

Yes, I'm not sure there's a lot of enthusiasm for Wedge-tailed Eagles from a lot of people. I think many folk see them as chook stealers & lamb killers whether or not they've ever had an encounter with one. If a pair were to nest on my place I couldn't be happier. 

Incidentally, since post #11 I've twice seen a Wedge-tailed Eagle gliding at moderate height across the rocky hillside. The pair may feel they've established their territory & it now requires only an occasional sortie to reinforce the boundaries in the minds of any local competitors, one of which might be a Collared Sparrowhawk (judging by its size) which I saw a couple of days ago. All of this is conjecture, of course. 

Woko's picture

The Eagles are now seen spasmodically at a much higher altitude. But they're still around. No sign of any young - yet. I live in hope.

Ceo's picture

Lovely sight of a teenage White Breasted Sea Eagle at Restoration Island on Sat. Mum and Dad keeping vigil on the young one as it went through some basic steps. They dined on silver mullet on Saturday. 

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