A sighting of a powerful Eagle
6 October 2000 Havilah area, 21 00S 147 50E Qld.
While enroute to the Newlands Mine on a coal train my mate and I witnessed a
display of sheer power by a Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax.
A roo carcass beside the rail track had created quite a deal of interest
for the Wedgies, a total of 5 were in attendance with only one bird at the
As the train approached the feeding Wedgie flew, in the meantime another
Wedgie that had been perched decided to come in for a feed and seemed
oblivious to the trains approach. The bird had adopted a descent and was
almost ready to land near the carcass when all of a sudden it became aware
of the trains approach. The Wedgie would have been about 3 metres off the
ground when it took immediate evasive action, with one mighty flap of its
enormous wings the bird tucked its legs up veered to the left then took
another flap to gain height then glide towards a tree. This all happened
very quickly and was no doubt a "fight or flight " response to danger.
Interpretation of the preceding events was immediately discussed with my
mate, we both concluded that the power required by the bird to go from a
descent to one of lift must be immense for a bird of this size. With
little knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of birds the skeleto-muscular
forces required to achieve this action must create a great deal of strain on
A total of 17 Wedge tailed Eagles were observed between Collinsville and
Newlands (73Km) on that trip. A couple of days later I counted 21 birds,
roos and wallabies are constantly struck by trains especially at night
along this route and no doubt the Eagles and other raptors have associated
rail lines with food.
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