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Wedge-tailed Eagle  -  Aquila audax
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle on a road kill carcasse beside the road.
Wedge-tailed Eagle Wedge-tailed Eagle in typical place on dead tree. The black plumage indicates an adult bird (older than about 5 years)
map map The Wedge-tailed Eagle - Aquila audax - is sooty-black with tawny nape, pale brown wings and rump. Tail long and wedge-shaped; feathered legs. Birds become darker with age. Females are larger. Size 85 to 105 centimetres, wingspan 185 to 230 centimetres. Juveniles (from end of 1st year to 4th or 5th year) are usually paler than adults, dark brown with rich golden-brown nape and wings. Whitish rump.

Wedge-tailed Eagle - page 2
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring in the Flinders Ranges. The underwing colour pattern is characteristic and is a good identification feature for this eagle - note the spread tail feathers.
Lives in most habitats, except closed forest. Soars on long, fingered, upswept wings.

A noted carrion-eater, the wedge-tailed eagle is often seen on roads and roadsides feasting on road-kill which it is noticeably reluctant to leave, even when a large truck is approaching; the more cunning Ravens leave a roadkill carcasse in good time while an eagle will stand its ground on top of the carcasse glaring at the approaching vehicle and refusing to move. The outcome is often bad for the eagle. Adult eagles are so heavy that they take some time to fly high enough to clear oncoming traffic, especially large trucks, and their reluctance to leave a carcasse combined with lack of agility leads to many dead eagles along the road. Younger (brown) eagles are more agile and appear less reluctant to leave road kill as a vehicle approaches. Younger eagles often share a kill with kites which have better road sense than eagles and more often (but not always) leave in good time. When the kites fly away the younger eagles tend to go with them.

Found throughout Australia, including Tasmania, except central Western Australia.

Tasmanian eagles are a different variety (fleayi) with pale nape and no rufous on dorsal surface.

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