The Wedge-tailed Eagle is Australia’s
largest bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres, and 1metre
long from beak to tail.
Eagle numbers have plummeted since white settlement
due to the mistaken belief they preyed on lambs. Until recently they
were shot, poisoned and trapped in the hundreds of thousands. During
the 1960’s, 30,000 eagles were killed each year.
Intensive studies have proven that eagles actually
kill very few lambs, and those lambs taken were usually sick and dying
or in fact dead already. Carrion makes up a large part of the eagles’
diet, and preferred live food is wallabies, rabbits and foxes. (Foxes
are the greatest killers of healthy lambs.)
Thankfully, Wedge-tailed Eagles are now protected
and it is illegal to harm them in any way. Unfortunately they still
have an uphill battle for survival. The problems facing them today are
habitat destruction, poisoning from baits, reduced numbers of rabbits,
and road accidents.
Some people still attempt to shoot them, and recently lead shot was
revealed in an x-ray of an eagle with a broken wing.
As eagles are carrion feeders, they are drawn
to road-kills. If you ever see an eagle feeding on the side of the road,
slow down! The eagle is a heavy bird and it is surprising how slow
they are to take flight. Often they fly across the traffic and into
the path of a car.