Yesterday I had the privilege of spending some time on country with three local Aboriginal girls from Wiluna, whose teachers Chris and Anni had arranged a school adventure to enable students to learn about researching Wallu-wurru (Wedge-tailed Eagle) ecology at Matuwa. I began by drawing in the sand a story about our tagged adult male wedgie Wallu, showing his home-range and nest sites, and described the successful nest I'd visited last week. We then set off into the bush to check Wallu's nest, in the hope we would get some nice views of his two daughters.
When we reached the nest tree, I was very happy to spend time showing everyone the evidence used to determine that an eagle nest is active - lots of 'whitewash' (scats), fresh eucalypt sprigs dropped from the nest cavity's lining, and the remains of prey items delivered in the past few days. I climbed the nest to check on the juvenile eagles' progress, and was pleased to see them both standing tall on their sturdy legs, with the blue colour rings showing nicely.
|It was a marvelous view looking down from the nest tree and seeing the students and their teachers talking happily :)|
When I descended to show the group close-up photos, the students asked if the two eagle chicks had names, to which I replied "No, we haven't given them any." Then something amazing happened: the girls said "Can we give them names?" This excited me greatly and I of course agreed. After a short discussion, the girls decided on 'Djentu' (pronounced 'jen-doo', which means 'sun') for the older chick, and 'minyma' ('min-muh') which is a local Martu translation for 'girl'.
|Djentu (left) and Minyma stand proud and tall on their parents' Wallu and Wurru's eyrie. These two juvenile eagles are now about 10 weeks old and are about 2 weeks away from fledging.|
Although they are not being satellite-tracked, Djentu and Minyma still have unique identification numbers on their colour rings, so provided these can be read if the birds are resighted, we will be able to determine who is who!
|The bulge in Minyma's neck indicates a full crop, an encouraging sign of a recent feed.|
Naming ceremony complete, it was then time to walk back to the car, with special thoughts of the eagles' new names in mind, and a magic outback sunset to look back at.