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The wedge-tailed eagle or bunjil (Aquila audax), sometimes known as the eaglehawk, is the largest bird of prey in Australia, and is also found in southern New Guinea, part of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail.
The wedge-tailed eagle is one of 12 species of large, predominantly dark-coloured booted eagles in the genus Aquila found worldwide. A large brown bird of prey, it has a wingspan up to 2.84 m (9 ft 4 in) and a length up to 1.06 m (3 ft 6 in).
Breeding and habitat
Wedge-tails are found throughout Australia, including Tasmania, and southern New Guinea in almost all habitats, though they tend to be more common in lightly timbered and open country in southern and eastern Australia. In New Guinea, the birds can be found in the Trans Fly savanna and grasslands.
As the breeding season approaches, wedge-tailed eagle pairs perch close to each other and preen one another. They also perform dramatic aerobatic display flights together over their territory. Sometimes, the male dives down at breakneck speed towards his partner. As he pulls out of his dive and rises just above her ; she either ignores him or turns over to fly upside down, stretching out her talons. The pair may then perform a loop-the-loop. The wedge-tailed eagle usually nests in the fork of a tree between one and 30 m above the ground, but if no suitable sites are available, it will nest on a cliff edge.
Before the female lays eggs, both birds either destroy the large stick nest or add new sticks and leaf lining to an old nest. Nests can be 2–5 m deep and 2–5 m wide. The female usually lays two eggs, which are incubated by both sexes. After about 45 days, the chicks hatch. At first, the male does all the hunting. When the chicks are about 30 days old, the female stops brooding them and joins her mate to hunt for food.
The young wedge-tailed eagles depend on their parents for food up to six months after hatching. They leave only when the next breeding season approaches.