Me and my favourite bird

Wedge-tailed Eagles are my favourite bird and I’ve now been able to tell one, close up.

Yes I'm happy happy but she's taking Nellie away from me
Yes I’m happy happy but she’s taking Nellie away from me

They are found across the Australian continent outside urban areas, and on Kangaroo Island they are quite common and often seen. I should be getting blasé about them but I doubt that will ever happen.

I’ve had two close encounters before, one on Kangaroo Island when my friend Mark and I were driving along the two-wheeled track named Jump Off Road out west on the north coast. We didn’t see the eagle which must have been feeding on the side of the track. And it can’t have noticed us until the last minute. It flew up over the bonnet and its body and wings covered the windscreen for an instant – and left a lasting impression.

At the Palmer Sculpture Biennial, west of Adelaide, up near the highest point an eagle hovered only about 2 or 3 metres above us possibly on the updrafts from the nearby cliffs. It was close enough to see the feathers and the patterns on the underwings.

I’ve scared off eagles feasting on road-kill carcasses on Kangaroo Island and avoided them as they lumber away with a full belly. But I’ve never been able to just get a good look close up. So when Raptor Domain offered me the chance to hold the adolescent Nellie for a mere 10 bucks, I was there.

Wedgies get darker as they age. Old bird are practically black. Nellie is about 18 months old. I was captivated by her fabulous array of neck feathers. What an experience. Thanks Raptor Domain – it’s always a fabulous show. And thanks Sue Carson for the photos.

Tourism Australia has a beautiful video of a Wedge-tailed Eagle pair with indescribably gorgeous chick (thanks Janine Mackintosh for the link). Have a look!

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