FLY BY: This female wedge-tailed eagle came down to have a look at Peter and Bevly Hughes, not hunting just checking out her extended nest territory.
FLY BY: This female wedge-tailed eagle came down to have a look at Peter and Bevly Hughes, not hunting just checking out her extended nest territory. Contributed

Eagle ‘attack’ more likely an accidental collision

LAST Thursday's issue of The Gympie Times featured Widgee resident Graham Shooter's somewhat unusual encounter with a wedge-tailed eagle.

These eagles are relatively common in the Widgee Valley where there is at least three nesting pairs.

Rather than suggest that the eagle was attacking Mr Shooter, it appears as if it was a case of an accidental collision.

Early in the morning eagles are just starting to move around and will dive from an overnight perch to gain speed and uplift.

Once well into the air rising warm currents are used rather than having to flap frequently.

Once on the ground eagles are awkward and find it difficult to get airborne and will sometimes run along the ground into the wind to get lift.

Early morning with probably no wind makes take off harder.

The little Jack Russell could well have been at least a look and see what that is investigation by the eagle as it is about the size of their most common prey hares and rabbits.

An eagle can easily bring down a full-sized wallaby and rather than try to fly off with the carcass will dismember it before taking bits back to the nest. Very powerful locking talons grab at the base of the skull or through the head and kill rapidly.

Australia Zoo's comment about defending a nest site is a bit doubtful at this time of the year as nesting should be well over and young independent from adults.

Eagles do mate for life but male and females will often go their own way during non breeding time returning at breeding time.

Pairs do not breed each year and territory size depends on what territory.

There is a strongly-defended territory in the immediate nest when there are eggs or young - maybe 500m - and this is aggressively defended against annoying or potential threats.

A further territory extends to cover trees from which nesting material can be collected and this is also defended but not as hard.

The third is the hunting territory, not clearly defined and may cross over with other pairs in the general area.

When you are as big and strong as a wedge-tail there are not a lot of predators that are a bother.

Other birds steer well clear and any goanna that makes it anywhere near a nest with eggs or young is just a home delivery meal for the eagles.

Gympie Times


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