Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Meet the newest member of our satellite-tracked eagle family, a beautiful juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagle called 'Jarrkanpa'. This word comes from the Martu language and means 'young boy', and I decided it would be a fitting name for a ~10 week old male eagle.

Today Jarrkanpa was removed from his nest and fitted with a solar PTT, making him the fourth Lorna Glen eagle to be tracked with satellite technology. But it wasn't the first time I'd handled him. Just over a month earlier, I was nest-searching the edge of Lindsay Gordon Lagoon with my Mum in tow as a volunteer, when I stumbled upon a brand new eagle nest in a previously unrecorded territory. This nest housed one chick, which, when I scaled to the top of its nest tree, greeted me with open wings! (Not in the welcoming way that this saying normally implies though - opening wings and a gaping mouth are signs of a threat display that many nestling raptors exhibit, making themselves appear larger and more threatening, useful for warding off would-be predators).

This photo shows Jarrkanpa at about 5 weeks of age on the day of discovery. You can also see the range of prey animals, including a Dinner Plate Turtle (Chelodina steindachneri), that share the nest cavity with him. A couple of weeks later I climbed this nest again and removed the chick, which was fitted with metal leg bands - this is part of our research to gather further information on the dispersal and survival of juveniles. A photo of him having the bands fitted is shown in the fifth photo down of the 'Cute Chicks' blog post, which also shows a picture of me at the nest (second photo down).

Today, as Neil and I approached the nest, this is what Jarrkanpa looked like:

As these pictures show, the growth rate of young eagles is incredibly swift; this is something that has never ceased to amaze me. Once safely removed from his nest, Jarrkanpa was placed on a soft sheet on the ground and blinded with a falconry hood. Neil held the bird in position as I fitted the transmitter, which went on very smoothly as the harness had been pre-made.

A solar PTT being fitted to Jarrkanpa's back with a specially designed Teflon harness.

After a couple of quick photographs I returned him to his nest. The young eagle instantly assumed a threat display, standing boldly on his now powerful feet and spreading his nearly-complete wingspan. I wondered how long it would be before he would make his first flight. Satellite tracking would soon tell me!

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