The Wedge-tailed Eagle is a majestic large eagle native to Australia. They are found throughout the continent, from the tropical Top End to Tasmania, and are regularly spotted by our experienced Wildlife Guides on the 21 day Maximum Wildlife Tour.
Here are 5 Amazing Facts about the Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax.
1. Sibling rivalry can be deadly
When food is limited the larger eagle chick may eat their smaller sibling. A Wedge-tailed Eagle will lay 2 to 3 eggs, with each egg laid two to four days apart. She begins incubation as soon as the first egg is laid, and the babies hatch within a few days of each other. This means that the chick from the first egg will often be larger than younger eggs. The first egg has a higher chance of survival than their younger siblings.
It sounds harsh, but to be a top predator only the strongest will survive.
2. Wedge-tailed Eagles have massive nests
Large bird: very large nest. Wedge-tailed Eagle nests are usually built in the tallest trees, which makes it very important to retain healthy mature forests Australia-wide. Nests are re-used and added to over many years, and can reach 2 metres in diameter and 4 metres deep.
Wedge-tailed eagles are territorial around their nests, but share larger home ranges with other eagles.
3. Their love is eternal
The Australian Wedge-tailed Eagle mates for life. Once they have paired up the Wedge-tailed Eagle will find a large territory and defend it together. They will also share the duties of caring for their chicks and maintaining their nests.
4. One of the world’s largest eagles
Australia’s largest bird of prey is the Wedge-tailed Eagle, and they are one of the world’s largest eagles. They have an average wingspan of 2.3 metres, and occasionally up to 2.8 metres. Females are larger than males and also weigh more than males. Their large size means they can lift very large prey items.
When the Wedge-tailed Eagle is flying in the sky, their distinctive wedge- or triangular-shaped tail helps to identify them.
5. Get darker with age
Young Wedge-tailed Eagles are light brown. As they age their feathers get darker. Very dark, almost black Wedge-tailed Eagles are old adults.
Seeing a Wedge-tailed Eagle is an experience not to be missed. See them in real life on the Maximum Wildlife Tour.
Love raptors (birds of prey)? Learn about some of Australia’s other eagles, hawks and falcons here.
Great eagle photographs by Wildlife Guides Martin Maderthaner, Brett Howell, Janine Duffy and Michael Williams.
NOTES & REFERENCES:
There is so much more to learn about the Wedge-tailed Eagles so visit these sites:
BirdLife Australia fact sheet: https://www.birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/wedge-tailed-eagle
Australian Museum fact sheet: https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/birds/wedge-tailed-eagle/
Australian government species listing: