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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Australian Wedge-Tail Eagle: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Australian wedge-tail eagle facts about the fifth largest bird in the world.

Have you ever heard of the biggest eagle in the world? With a wingspan of around 6-7.6 ft (182-232 cm), the wedge-tail eagle, Aquila audax is Australia's largest bird of prey. They are the fifth largest eagles in the world.

The wedge-tail eagle is a diurnal raptor species. Like all other birds of prey, they have large talons and a hooked bill. The young birds have brown feathers, and as they mature, they become darker. The adult eagles are dark brownish-black and have slightly bronze and white feathers on their wings and necks. Their long and strong legs are covered with feathers till the toe.

One of the most inspiring facts about the wedge-tail eagle is that they mate for life. Once they pair up, they will remain together for a lifetime, find a territory, and defend it together. In addition, they share the responsibilities of maintaining their nests and taking care of their chicks.

Here is a piece of in-detail information about the wedge-tail eagles. Also, read about other eagle species from our articles on the sea eagle and the black vulture.

Australian Wedge-Tail Eagle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Australian wedge-tail eagle?

The wedge-tail eagle is a bird that likes to live alone until they pair up and remain mates for a lifetime. So they spent most of their day flying high up in the sky, circling within their territory to look for food.

When they are not flying, they usually perch up high in a tree. No predator can take down an adult wedge-tail eagle. However, their nests are raided by creatures like goannas. The goannas are known to take away their eggs, hatchlings, and eaglets.

What class of animal does an Australian wedge-tail eagle belong to?

The wedge-tail eagle is a bird. It belongs to the class Aves and the family Accipitridae. It is Australia's largest true eagle.

How many Australian wedge-tail eagles are there in the world?

The Aquila audax is listed as Least Concern. However, Aquila audax fleayi is classified as Endangered species. About 130 breeding pairs of Aquila audax fleayi are available in Australia and New Zealand.

Where does an Australian wedge-tail eagle live?

The Aquila audax lives in dense forests, woodlands, mountainous regions, and grasslands. They are distributed in mainland Australia, Tasmania, and Papua New Guinea.

It has a wide distribution in the lightly timbered and open country in southern, eastern, and western Australia. They also occur in low density in the Lake Eyre Basin. In New Guinea, they are found in the Trans Fly savanna and grasslands.

What is an Australian wedge-tail eagle's habitat?

The wedge-tail eagles prefer to live in woodlands, forested lands, and open country. They usually avoid rainforests and coastal regions. Most of the time, the wedge-tail eagles are seen flying high up in the sky at an altitude of 3280 ft (1000 m). When not flying, they are perched on trees.

The wedge-tail eagles built their location with the best view of the surrounding area. They like to build their nest in a live or dead tree and one of the tallest in the area. The home range varies on the availability of prey and other resources that supports their living. Most of the nesting range is only 1.5-2.5 mi (2.5-4 km) apart.

Who do Australian wedge-tail eagles live with?

The wedge-tail eagles live alone or in pairs.

How long does an Australian wedge-tail eagle live?

In the wild, the Audax wedge-tail eagle is expected to live for 11 years, and in captivity, it is expected to live for 40 years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the Aquila audax starts from June to August. The wedge-tail eagles form monogamous pairs and remain mates for a lifetime. However, it is common to seek a new mate if one of them dies. During the breeding season, each pair defends its territory. The nests are huge and are made of sticks, leaves, and twigs. This nest is used for many years.

A nest is built at the height of  3.2-98 ft (1-30 m) above the ground, and the nests are around 6.5- 16 ft (2-5 m) wide and  6.5- 16.4 ft (2-5 m) deep. The female lays one to two eggs in this nest with a gap of two to four days. These eggs are incubated for 42-45 days by both the male and female.

The eggs do not hatch at the same time. If food is scarce, the first hatched chick might kill the newly hatched one. The chicks are covered with white feathers. The eaglets reach sexual maturity when they are three years old.

Both the male and female wedge-tail eagles are responsible for taking care of their young ones. They hunt for food together to feed their chicks.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the wedge-tail eagle is of Least Concern.

Australian Wedge-Tail Eagle Fun Facts

What do Australian wedge-tail eagles look like?

Australian wedge-tail eagle, the largest bird of prey in Australia mate for life.

The adult wedge-tail eagles are dark brownish-black and have slightly bronze and white feathers. It has a 32-42 in (81-106 cm) length, and its wingspan is around 6-7.6 ft (182-232 cm). The underside of the wings, the hind-neck, and shoulders are brownish-red. The base of the beak is creamy white. The legs are long and strong and are covered with feathers till the base of the toe. The adult female wedge-tail eagles are slightly paler than the males.

As the name suggests, they are the only eagles with wedge-shaped tails. Its unique wedge-shaped tail distinguishes it from other eagle species.

The young eagles are dull brown and have light reddish-brown wings. As the eaglets grow older, their color becomes darker. They finally become dark brownish-black after ten years.

How cute are they?

The wedge-shaped tail eagle is not cute but looks bold. It is one of the diurnal raptor species in mainland Australia.

Like a typical bird of prey, it has a hooked bill and large talons. It weighs around 4.4-12.8 lb (2-5.8 kg) and has a length of 32-42 in (81 - 106 cm). The females are larger than the males. The adult wedge-tail eagles are dark brownish-black. Whereas the young ones are mid-brown, and as they age, their body color becomes darker.

How do they communicate?

The Aquila audax has a weak call, and it is rarely heard. Their call is only a double syllable note. They use different calls for mating, alarming, greeting, and territoriality.

Their call is typical with a double syllable note. Although it is one of the largest eagles and one of the largest birds of prey, the call is too weak compared to its size. The wedge-tail eagles also use flight displays like dives and arcs to show territorial ownership and court a potential mate for breeding.

How big is an Australian wedge-tail eagle?

The Australian wedge-tail eagle size is 32-42 in (81-106 cm).

It is three times bigger than the common eagles.

How fast can an Australian wedge-tail eagle fly?

The Australian wedge-tail eagle travels at a speed of 50 mph (80 kph). The wedge-tail eagle birds can reach as high as 1.2 mi (2 km) and continuously fly in the air for 90 min.

How much does an Australian wedge-tail eagle weigh?

The female wedge-tail eagles' body weight is between 6.6-12.8 lb (3-5.8 kg), while the males' body weight is around 4.4-8.8 lb (2-4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Female species are called female wedge-tail eagles, and the male species is called the male wedge-tail eagle.

What would you call a baby Australian wedge-tail eagle?

A baby wedge-tail eagle is known as a chick, fledgling, or eaglet.

What do they eat?

The diet of the wedge-tail eagle comprises rabbits and hares thanks to the European settlers who brought these species to Australia. They have become the primary diet of the eagles in many areas. Other animals introduced in their diet are foxes, feral cats, smaller birds, and native animals like small kangaroos, wombats, koalas, wallabies, possums, and bandicoots. A significant component of their diet comprises birds like ducks, crows, ibises, cockatoos, Australian brushturkeys, and young emus. In some areas, they feed on reptiles like goannas, snakes, frill-necked lizards, and bearded dragons.

They sometimes hunt for food beyond their home range when the food resources or to hunt animals are scarcely available.

Are they dangerous?

Yes, the wedge-tail eagles can be dangerous. The large eagles are strong enough to pick up human babies. An African crowned eagle was recorded picking up a six-year-old child. The harpy-eagle and Australian wedge-tail eagle both are recorded to have taken babies.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the wedge-tail eagles cannot be kept as a pet.

Did you know...

The wedge-tail eagle is the state emblem of two of the states of Australia, the Northern Territory, and New South Wales. It is also a mascot of an Australian football team named the West Coast Eagles.

These impressive birds of prey are known to paragliders and hang gliders that enter their territorial range. They are also known as eaglehawks and are also spelled as Australian wedge-tailed eagles.

When the food is limited, the chicks eat their own smaller siblings, which hatch later. A wedge-tail eagle lays only around two eggs with a gap of two to four days. However, she soon incubates the first egg that is laid. Therefore, the chicks from the first egg will be larger and have a higher chance of surviving.

Young wedge-tail eagles are mid-brown. As they grow older, their feathers get darker, almost dark brownish-black.

What does it mean when you see a wedge-tail eagle?

There is a superstition that these birds signify misunderstanding and a need to challenge your own conceptions. However, there is no proven evidence to show that seeing these birds is actually a sign of this.

Comparisons with other eagles

Australian wedge-tail eagle vs bald eagle: The wedge-tail eagle is bigger than the bald eagle. Its size is about 2.7-3.4 ft (0.85-1.05 m), and the bald eagle's size is about 3.2 ft (1 m).

The harpy eagle is bigger than the wedge-tail eagle. Its size is 6.5 ft (2 m).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Indian vulture facts and falcon facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Australian wedge tail eagle coloring pages.

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