Scientific name: Aquila audax
The largest bird of prey in Australia, the Wedge-tailed Eagle is a huge, powerful eagle with long wings (2.3m) and a distinctive diamond-shaped tail. It has a relatively small, flat head with a massive, formidable beak. Its legs are covered in baggy feathering all the way to the feet. Adults are mostly dark blackish-brown with brown eyes and the cere (top of beak) and feet are creamy white. The female is slightly larger and heavier than the male.
Distribution and habitat
The Wedge-tailed Eagle is widespread across Australia, including Tasmania and also occurs in parts of southern Papua New Guinea. This large eagle is found in a wide variety of habitats, from forest and woodland to savanna and treeless plains.
They hunt a variety of mammals, as well as some reptiles and birds as well as carrion. Where they are common, rabbits make up most of the Wedge-tailed Eagle’s diet, but they will also take wallabies, kangaroos, hares, possums, cats, dogs, foxes, young goats and lambs. This powerful eagle is capable of taking prey several times its own weight and they sometimes hunt co-operatively in pairs or even in small groups.
Life expectancy and breeding
They are believed to mate for life and build large stick nests which, after repeated use over many years, may reach up to 2.5 metres across and nearly 4 metres in depth. The female normally lays 1 or 2 eggs which are incubated by both adults for 42 to 48 days. They reach sexual maturity at about 3 to 5 years old. This long-lived species may potentially reach 20 to 25 years old in the wild and up to 40 years old in captivity