The Eagle Landed Today

The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest raptor, typically having a wingspan of 182 – 232 cm (6 feet to 7 feet 7 inches), and has been recorded diving at 80 kph (about 50 mph). In the wild, wedgies live for about 40 years.

In my area wedgies are regular visitors, usually seen majestically soaring in circles high in the sky, perhaps 2000 metres up, using thermals in seemingly effortless flight. At other times they seek prey just a few metres above the ground, sometimes even landing quite close to the house.

Although in the past farmers often had a negative attitude about wedgies, mistakenly believing that they were preying on lambs and calves when in fact they were just consuming dead animals, now they are seen in a positive light. In particular, their role in killing Australia’s feral pests – rabbits, cats and foxes – is now applauded.

To the local indigenous people (the Wurundjeri) the wedge-tailed eagle is Bungil, their creator and spiritual leader. Many country people of European background also see the wedgie in a special light. My friends who left their home just minutes before the 2009 Black Saturday bushfire raced into their valley and destroyed most houses in the area, killed neighbours and cut off the road as an escape route, feel that they were alerted to the danger by the continually circling wedgie over their house.

When we moved into our current home in 2009 after losing our previous house in the same fire, a wedgie also featured. On arising on my first morning in the new home, I was greeted by a wedgie perched on a fence in the paddock about 40 metres from the front door. It was quite relaxed and unconcerned, and became a regular visitor over the next month or so, sometimes gliding a few metres above our car like a welcoming plane as we returned from an outing.

Perhaps today’s wedgie is the same one. Thanks for your welcome, Bunjil.

 

A wedgie in flight

A wedgie in flight.

Tha tail shape is the source of the name. I'm glad I'm not a rabbit
The tail shape is the source of the name. I’m glad I’m not a rabbit.
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Published by

retrostuart

I like to travel while having a base from which to roam. Home is a small farm on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, where I grow organic vegetables and fruit, keep a few chooks (chickens) and Dexter cattle. The place offers some country peace and quiet, and wildlife, as well as quick access to the inner suburbs of the city for my regular contrasting visits. I enjoy walking, camping, swimming and snorkelling, photography, reading, listening to and playing music, and good food and wine. A major flaw in my character is being susceptible to sales of air flights.

4 thoughts on “The Eagle Landed Today”

  1. We see many wedgies here too. Once, in the Snowy Mountains, I saw a wedgie circling above a lamb being protected by two sheep. They appeared frightened and herded. I’ve never seen them trouble sheep here but I did lose a rooster once, in the middle of the day.

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    1. Take away chicken is always popular. The most successful raptor in my chookhouse was a peregrine falcon. Wedgies together have been seen hunting adult kangaroos, so they’re capable of taking large animals, but their reputation as lamb killers is apparently exaggerated.

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  2. Nice story, Stuart.
    For other readers I was one of those friends who escaped the fire after the eagle’s warning. There is an epilogue. Exactly a year after the fire our next door neighbour held a party. There were a lot of fire stories going around. During the telling of the eagle story I pointed to the sky, where the eagle was . The listeners and I looked up. There , circling about 20m up, was the eagle.

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    1. Thanks, Brian. Thanks also for the addition from a year later. After a few decades of living in the bush, we might be gaining a small segment of appreciation of the understanding of our environment that the original inhabitants acquired in their 40,000 years plus history.

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