Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Eagle Breeding Time

While you might be cozy and warm by your fire during some of these wintery days, do you ever take your imagination out into the bush and wonder what our wildlife is up to?

Our largest bird of prey, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, has its mind on nesting, with some of the first breeders now with eggs. This means that those dedicated female eagles are sitting tight on their nests, even in some of the heaviest downpours, to keep the precious eggs warm.

Eagle breeding has lured me out and about to check the territories I’ve been studying for some years now. So far I’ve visited three nesting valleys and located active nests in all of them. The picture below shows one of these, perched high up in a tall Marri tree. This nest site was actually used in 2009, but heavy weather the following summer blew it down, so the eagles had to start from scratch this year.

Another nest on the Swan Coastal Plain near Perth, used successfully in 2011, has been refurbished this year. I was thrilled yesterday to discover it was active, with the first freshly laid egg laid in a bed of Eucalypt leaves:

You might wonder why eagles are nesting now, when the weather is wet and they have to sit in the rain to keep their eggs warm and dry. Why not wait until Spring when it’s a bit drier? This is not definitely known, but in nature everything happens for a reason. It is highly likely that eagles lay eggs now so their chicks hatch during the time when their prey is most abundant. In about six weeks when this egg will be an eaglet, the environment is seething with young kangaroos, rabbits, baby birds and reptiles who are emerging from winter hibernation, all things that a Wedge-tail would pounce on for a meal. If they laid later in the year, the eaglets would be growing up when all the other wildlife is dispersing or going into hiding for the hot Summer months.

And anyway, when you have a view over the gorgeous Banksia woodland such as that from this eagle nest during a sunny Winter afternoon, why wouldn’t you sit and enjoy it as soon as you could? Can you sharpen your eyes and find Perth on the horizon?


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