Beau - bird of prey, Wedge-tailed Eagle

Wedge Tailed EagleBeau one of our largest birds of prey is glorious in colour and spectacular in flight. The bird exhibits magnificent behavioural displays and is truly quite unique.

Beau was found standing on a single post in the Ravensbourne area.  It stood there, silently perhaps waiting, for an owner ? a partner? or food? The farmer who owned the property was intrigued and felt the animal might be injured and after three days surely must be hungry so he threw him a kilo of minced meat. The bird hopped from the post consumed the food and then hopped straight back to the position on the post.

Concerned for the welfare of the bird he phoned me for assistance that night. I asked him to phone me in the morning if the bird was still there and although I had a prior commitment I would ask a ranger I knew who had experience with these birds to observe and collect the bird he felt the bird needed to come into care.

The next morning sure enough the bird was still standing on the post so the farmer feed it another kilo of mince and the bird behaved in the same manner accepting the offering and simply returning to its vigil.

The bird was easily caught by the ranger showing no alarm a when handled, I came home from tutoring to find a message that the bird was in a small aviary as requested the ranger had noted only that the bird was very thin.

On first inspection I could see no injury but the eagle was indeed emancipated. By the light colouring the eagle appeared to be either young or a pale morph. Other characteristics like the condition of the beak the feet indicated the bird was of some years, and today the feathers are much the same colour after two moults in captivity, unusual as most eagles tend to become darker with age.

Wedge Tailed EagleThe eagle exhibits behaviours not usually seen in wild birds of prey in captivity. At feed time it flies to the standing post not unlike the one it was found standing on, fluffs out its neck feathers like an Elizabethan collar and drops and ruffles its wings, stands waiting for food. When food is thrown in through the shute it flies to the ground and struts around with powerful legs, wings outstretched to find the best pickings, a performance to behold.

The eagle more than likely has been captive before possibly released or escaped and unable or not been taught to hunt to feed. In all my years of caring for injured birds I have not had a bird of prey that should not be returned to the wild, but this eagle has been deemed unsuitable and will remain in care and put on The Species List to await a place in a wildlife park or zoo. 

Beau has been one of the first to be released into a wonderful new avairy for birds of prey at our centre thanks to the generosity of Wildlife Queensland Toowoomba Branch and the Toowoomba Regional Council.