These are two Wedge Tailed eagles I saw coming home!! Patiently letting me photograph them!!
These eagles are often killed by farmers in Australia.
To me they represent the top of the food chain. If they are present, the food chain in the area is complete. A great thing. Having birds of prey, commonly called raptors I think, cruising in your airspace it a special thing and a good environmental health indicator.
Once I saw two in a tree outside my bedroom at dawn here at The GO. What a great way to start the day!! We rarely see them though.
They are blamed for killing lambs which seems to be an incorrect myth according to this article: Brooker, M.G. and Ridpath, M.G. (1980) The Diet of the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, Aquila audax, in Western Australia. Aus. Wildl. Res. 7, 433-52:
“The 1964 study, and the 10 year study that followed it showed clearly that Wedge-tailed Eagles do not play a significant role in killing lambs. An average of 20% die of illness or mis-mothering. The eagles accounted for much less than one percent of lambs eaten in a sheep farming area”.
Perhaps we don’t appreciate what else they kill and keep under control because we don’t see all that they do – there isn’t any aftermath of smaller kills which must be thousands of rodents and mice. They are BIG birds (apparently the 4th largest eagle in the world – depending of definition of biggest). I wonder if there has ever been a study done of lamb/stock losses from raptors versus the benefits from the natural predator role they have? It would be interesting to see the balance of this equation. But how to take into account stock losses, which have a commercial value, versus natural pest control, which has no immediate or obvious or measurable commercial (or environmental) value? Our studies are so biased not taking into account factors which have no immediate commercial impact.
I note from the position statement I attach below that it looks as if they are good feral animal predators:
“Since the ecosystem here has been dramatically modified, the eagles have changed their diet to include feral rabbit, fox and cat.”
Maybe they do more good than harm? Maybe there needs to be some publicity to change perception of these magnificent birds who are vital to our landscape?
What’s your view on Wedge Tailed eagles?
For me – on the positive side of the equation – is seeing these magnificent birds. I was so excited to see these two beside the road and one of my earliest special memories on The GO, is lying on my back in a Coolatai grass “bed” in the paddock watching a pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles soaring in the thermals overhead. What a grand view they must have! What a grand sight they were!
Wedge Tails – you are welcome on The GO!!
(I actually wrote this post last week while I was travelling but didn’t have internet access. I must have put the intent out there as 2 days ago we saw a “Wedgie” hunting on The GO – cruising The GO airspace hopefully looking for food such as rabbits. Intent – the all important ingredient of change.).
As a matter of interest here is an interesting position statement from the Society from the Prevention of Raptor – complete statement viewable at http://www.raptor.org.au/wte_posn.pdf . (Mmmmm…. inserting this doesn’t make it an automatic link for some reason. Blogging glitch!!)
It seems as if they are close to endangered with the sub species in Tasmania already actually endangered.