Re: birding-aus Talon Grappling

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Talon Grappling
From: "Paul Taylor" <>
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 09:28:30 +1100
> G'day all
> Can anyone point me towards any info/reports/papers/films,etc 
> about Talon Grappling ?....... especially by our Aus' raptors.
> I am sure I've read something but cannot remember where.!
> Maybe in an old Emu ?
> Is it always a nuptial thing ? OR
> Is it sometimes two males protecting their territory ? OR
> Is it sometimes two birds just having a bit of fun ?

Possibly all of the above.  "Cartwheeling" between male
White-bellied Sea-eagles (as shown in the video "Eagle", and
probably "Life of Birds") is a form of ritual combat used in
territorial disputes, but I have also seen talon grappling
between male and female Little Eagles (see below.)
> [snip]
> The above was prompted by Jill Dening's recent message in 
> Birding-Aus as follows:-
>    "I had mentioned to Bob Forsyth that I had observed (some
>       time ago now) what appeared to be courtship display between
>       two WBSEs at rather a low level above the water and mangroves. 
>       Maybe twenty meters. At one point the raptors "rolled over",
>       appeared to lock feet briefly, before continuing the display. 
>       There was no exchange of food, and I believe there was no
>       aggression involved."

I have seen this display between two Little Eagles at Googong Dam
outside of Queanbeyan NSW.  One bird was gliding more or less
horizontally, then a spotted the second bird diving down at an
angle of approximately 30 degrees from behind it.  (The size
difference between the birds suggested male and female - I forget
which bird was which now.)  When the birds were about to "collide",
the lower bird flipped upside down, briefly locked talons and then
continued on its way; there was no food exchanged.  My initial
impression was that it may have been a territorial dispute (I have
seen similar encounters between different species of raptors, and
once a Brown Goshawk and Pied Currawong, where a brief flip and
lunge with the talons was used in self-defence), but the slow speed
and "casualness" of this encounter suggested a courtship display.

   Paul Taylor                                  Veni, vidi, tici -
                           I came, I saw, I ticked.

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