Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Wedge-tailed eagles

Yesterday while I out in the local woods, I heard grunting, muffled, barking calls. So I crept on quietly, expecting to find some mammal lurking in the shrubbery, but no. There were a pair a wedge-tailed eagles sitting in adjacent trees, calling to one another.

Eagles are normally quiet birds, or thought  to be, but I have been close to quite a few and have heard such muffled barking calls before; by golden and wedge-tailed eagles. They are probably thought to be quiet birds because people are seldom close enough to hear them.

These birds had obviously not long finished eating something as both their bills were red with blood. But it must have been a small prey item as their crops were not full. Adult Wedge-tailed eagles have a fine golden nape similar to the golden eagle, of Europe, Asia and North America. Their wedged tail forms a distinctive long pointed shape when the birds are perched.

This bird was probably the male as it was the smaller one, and its feet can be seen to be quite small in this photograph - females are larger and usually have large thick talons. The long central tail feathers droop down when in level flight. I often wonder on their purpose, do they help the birds steer through the canopy? For these are birds of open woodland and landscape with scattered trees.

There was no point in me hiding as both birds had obviously seen me. So I grabbed a few quick images as the male flew off through the trees - the nictitating membrane closing over his eyes as he squeezed through the branches.

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