When you think large raptors, visions of prehistoric beasts from the pages of ‘Jurassic Park’ may come to mind, however raptors also refers to a specialised group of birds, named for their powerful gripping feet. The largest of those found in Australia is the Wedge-tailed eagle, sporting an incredible wingspan of 2.2m tip to tip. If you’ve not seen one, you are missing out, but luckily to witness these birds in flight you won’t need to travel back 65 million years, you can visit us down at the Bird Show and meet our newest addition, a 12-month old male Wedge-tail.
Our newest addition is yet to be named, and arrived recently from Healesville Sanctuary. Initially found in Monbulk, Victoria, this eagle was taken to the sanctuary as he was having difficulties flying. Lacking these skills is essentially a death sentence. He was given care, but when they tried to release him he still appeared to struggle and was deemed unfit for release, so shortly thereafter was transferred to Taronga Zoo Sydney.
Since being with us our focus has been on exposing him to as many different environments as possible, so although he is still a long way from debuting in shows he can still be seen on most days. We have been standing on stage with him so he can meet zoo guests, have been walking him to various points around the zoo, and even started his flight training. Yesterday was incredibly exciting for us as it was the greatest distance he was flown to date, flying from glove to glove. It was only 7-meters, but these are all encouraging signs. When he landed on my glove for the final flight my body was tingling.
It’s very amusing walking him around the zoo too. The White-cheeked Gibbons find our new eagle about as exciting as us. When we walked past their rope course yesterday they came straight over, swinging along branch to branch, following us as we went. Our eagle was taking it all in, just watching. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as he progresses with his training, but if you visit sometime soon you never know, you might just bump into us.
Bird Trainer, Brendan