DUNCAN – WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE
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Hatch Year: 1998
Arrival to WBS: 1998
Reason for Residence: hatched in captivity
Duncan was one of the first ever Wedge-tailed Eagles to be hatched in captivity in North America! His parents, originally from Australia, came to World Bird Sanctuary on breeding loan from the Louisville Zoo where they successfully had 3 chicks with us. Duncan was hatched here and hand raised to be an education ambassador, and his two siblings Darwin and Sydney went on to be trained birds with other organizations where they have had the opportunity to star in several movies! Duncan remained at World Bird Sanctuary and joined the zoo show team, with which he has traveled the country for years helping educate people about this unique Australian species.
He is known for his sweet demeanor and favoring women trainers over men. When not flying in programs over the summer or traveling for winter eagle programs, Duncan is housed off exhibit at World Bird Sanctuary.
SPECIES: WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE
CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
Wedge-tailed Eagles are considered the most common of the world’s large eagles. While they’re listed as of Least Concern on the the IUCN Red List of threatened species, it’s fully protected in all Australian states and territories. The Tasmanian subspecies (Aquila audax fleayi) is listed as Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Scientific Name: Aquila audax
Description: large, lanky, black eagle with a golden nape and wedge-shaped tail; largest bird of prey in Australia; entirely glossy brownish black except for golden rufous feathers on the nape and some dark rufous brown under the wings; eyes are brown; cere (small area of bare skin above the bill) and feet are yellow; one subspecies has a buff colored nape; in immature birds the upper side is streaked with black and dark brown, with grey mottling underneath; full adult plumage is acquired after about 6 years
Sex: both sexes similar in appearance
Age: up to 40 years
Weight: 8-12 lbs.
Habitat: prefers open country, but is found in all kinds of habitats, from forests to near deserts; appears to be resident and non-migratory
Range: Australia, Tasmania, and perhaps accidentally in New Guinea
Behavior: a breeding pair will soar and hunt together, performing spectacular aerial maneuvers in which the male dives down at the female while in flight; she may then roll over and present her talons to him; breeding pairs will attack other eagles who invade their home range; a large nest is built of sticks in trees 20-40 feet above ground; a pair may have as many as six alternative nests; nests are reused and added to each year, reach as much as 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep; 2-4 eggs are laid at 4 day intervals; the female incubates and broods alone; the male brings food to the nest and she feeds it to the young; usually only one chick survives
Diet: preferred prey is rabbits and hares; also feeds on carrion, wallabies, birds, cats, foxes, ducks, herons and occasionally reptiles; 30-40 eagles may congregate at one carcass in the case of carrion
Vocalization: relatively silent, although calling is more frequent during mating season; most calls shrill or whistling; “I see I see” or “pee-ya pee-ya”; males emit an aggression call, “yessir”, at the sight of a rival; female’s voice is lower and more harsh than the male’s
– Highly territorial, Wedge-Tailed Eagles will frequently attack and take out drones found flying too close to their nests. They have also been known to attempt to harass helicopters.
– Largest bird of prey in Australia