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Great Birds of Prey in Australia

By Edited May 11, 2015 1 2

The best thing I have ever done is deciding to travel. If you are thinking about joining the thousands of travellers tripping about Australia then do not put it off. Make your plans and do it while you are young enough to enjoy it. The main thing is to make sure if travelling into the outback of Australia that you have a good camera or you will be disappointed.

Australia has so many wonderful attractions to explore. Beautiful towns, historical places, beaches and thousands of eye catching scenes to see and of course you may catch glimpses of our great birds of prey in Australia. This article will give you an idea of what birds you may see on your travels throughout this large landscape. We have seen so many beautiful birds of prey on our trip.

Wedge-Tailed Eagle (Aquila audax)

These eagles are found all over Australia and Tasmania. I am sure you will have seen some of these magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagles, as they soar high in the sky gliding with the thermal currents searching for food. They glide with their wings swept upwards and their tail fanned open.

Contrary to most beliefs the eagles are not good hunters as they swoop down from great heights. Instead they obtain most of their food from the ground or the trees. Eagles hunt mostly for rabbits, wallabies and small kangaroos and are often seen eating from the road carnage by the side of the road.

Eagles will often congregate in groups of 10 to 20 although you will rarely see more than two or three sharing a carcass. The rest will sit and wait their turn perched in surrounding trees.

They frequently risk their lives to get that last tasty bite, waiting until the last minute before moving off the road before a truck or car hits.

 Wedge-Tailed Eagle Identification

Wedge-Tailed Eagles have a wing span of up to 2.5 metres and is Australia's largest bird of prey. The male is actually a bit smaller than the female. Mainly Black in colour with dark brown underneath

The younger ones are lighter brown and as they age the feathers darken and gradually about 5-6 years will turn black.

Nesting- Nests are built from sticks and lined with leaves and can often be seen built on tops of telegraph poles, in fork of tree or high on a cliff.

Lay 1-3 eggs. Incubation is approximately 45 days by Female. Young will fledge in 70- 90 days

Black Shouldered Kite (Elanus notatus)

On returning from our trip we came home to see this Black shouldered Kite sitting on our TV Aerial. He was eating a mouse I think but did not grab the camera in time to see what it was for sure.

These birds are found all over Australia except in the lower central area. This raptor hunts from a high perch either from the top of trees or yes from our TV antenna in this instance; it flutters and glides on its upswept wings often in early morning or at dusk. It hovers on its tail until it spies its prey then drops down and grabs it victim in its powerful talons. They mainly eat rodents, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Black Shouldered Kite Identification

Head and shoulder of the kite is white except for a small black dot in front of eyes. Wing is white with grey underneath tip of wings and black on shoulders. Eyes are orange. The female is slightly bigger that the male.

Breeding on their own the pair builds a new nest each year and when the chicks hatch the male hunts and the female feeds the chicks.

Nesting- Build nest with sticks and leaves. Lay 3 or 4 eggs. Incubation is in approximately 30 days. Chicks leave nest in about 5 weeks

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Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)

These beautiful birds can be seen all over Australia. The brown falcon hunts different to the majority of other falcons. Yes they can saw high like other large birds although these tend to fly lower while beating its wings it glides with its wings up almost like a vee shape.

The Brown Falcon hunts down it food while sitting in a tree or high perch watching for movement on the ground. Once it spots a meal it swoops down and grabs its victim in its strong talons.

The Brown Falcon can often be mistaken for other similar species because of its changing coloured feathers. Colour change from black to brown and a dusky white like the kestrel .

Brown Falcon Identification

The female is about 50mm longer in length than the male. As stated above these come in a variety of colours some have whit or cream white below. Their bill is blue-grey with a black tip. Their feet and toes are grey with black claws. Voice is loud cackling sound.

Nesting- These are lazy when it comes to making a nest instead they often use the nest of another hawk. Lined with sticks and green leaves. They lay between 2-5 eggs.

Incubation time is by both sexes in approximately 30 days. Young leave the nest in between 40-45 days

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Other Birds of Prey

There are many other great birds of prey in Australia although I have not personally seen them all so far.

Here are a few of them:


  • Letter winged Kite- Mainly white underneath and grey on back
  • Black Kite- Mainly mottled brown with lighter shade on head
  • Brahminy Kite – White head neck and mantle body feathers chestnut with darker tail


  • Black-breasted Buzzard-Head and back dusky black and russet feathers, toes pale grey.


  • Spotted Harrier-Upper body blue grey lower body red brown with spots, eyes yellow.
  • Swamp Harrier- Mottled brown upper body, underneath brown and off white on belly.

Australian Kestrel-Black spotting on back, head rufous tinged pale blue grey. Under belly white with rufous stripes. Feet yellow with black claws and eyes brown with yellow cere, bill blue grey. Found all over Australia and top of Tasmania.

(All images and information are copywrited by the author)

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This book has colored images to help you identify the birds you see


Apr 22, 2013 9:56pm
Very interesting!

That eagle almost looks like a buzzard. A cousin anyway. :)

That Black Shouldered Kite is a pretty bird. Is it akin to an owl? It almost looks like an owl and a falcon had a baby.
Apr 22, 2013 10:37pm
Thanks for stopping by, I don't believe the kite it is related to owl, although I am no expert. There are so many different family type of birds.
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