Questions and Answers on the Parramatta River White-bellied Sea-Eagles

Geoff Hutchinson
Birds Australia Sea-EagleCAM

1. Where are they? In the Wanngal Woodland –the Newington Nature Reserve at Sydney Olympic Park

2. Where is the nest? In a Scribbly gum – an Eucalypt tree – Eucalyptus haemastoma. The nest cannot be seen from outside the reserve.

3. How high is the nest? About 16 metres up

4. Where is the camera? The camera is near the nest, looking down into the bowl of the nest.

5. Is the nest safe? The nest is in a Nature Reserve, with restricted access. The site is protected by SOPA Security and Rangers and under observation by Birds Australia volunteers. This study is part of a research Project and the observations are carefully managed.

6. Are the eagles disturbed on the nest? As approved in the Research protocol, no-one goes near the nest until the chicks are at least 4 weeks old and then access is still limited. A buffer zone is maintained around the forest.

7. Where can EagleCAM be viewed live? From the Birds Australia Discovery Centre, in the Newington Armory at Sydney Olympic Park and on Ustream

8. What do they eat? Fish caught from the river and nearby wetlands – mainly mullet, bream, whiting; eels; Silver gulls. Other prey has been seen as well – Flying Fox, other birds, a feral cat

9. Which eagle catches the food? Both, though probably the male brings more prey

10. Which feeds the chicks? Both parents

11. How do the chicks keep warm? The parents brood the chicks, sitting over them for protection.

12. Which parents broods at night? Only the female

13. Which parent incubates the eggs? Both

14. How can we tell the eagles apart? See table below

15. Are the adults the same size? The female is larger

16. How old are the parents? We estimate that they were at least 4-5 years old in 2008 – so they are at least 7-8 years old now – mature adults

17. Are there other Sea-Eagles in the area? Other Sea-Eagles are observed from time to time, including juveniles. No other pairs have an established territory on the Parramatta River though

18. Are there other raptors in the area? Several raptors: Brown Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Nankeen Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Black-shouldered Kite – all have been recorded as breeding. Other species are seen occasionally

19. Which parent built the nest? Both help, though the male brought more sticks. Both bring fresh leaves to line the nest.

20. How do they get the sticks? They were rarely seen gathering sticks, though we believe they fly at a branch and break it off with their weight. Sticks are carried in the feet, and bills used to manipulate the stick into place

21. What happens if one of the chicks falls from the nest? As part of the research protocol, if a chick falls, it will be retrieved and taken to a Raptor specialist carer for raising. It would then be released if possible, in the same area.

22. Do they have any enemies? Locally, the eagles’ only real threat is other White-bellied Sea-eagles. Elsewhere, Wedge-tailed Eagles and other large raptors may pose a threat to nestlings.

23. What do other birds in the area do? Pied Currawongs and Australian Magpies will swoop the birds on the nest when they themselves have nests in the forest. This is not generally a threat to the eagles, it is just annoying for them.

24. Do passing planes or helicopters disturb the birds? The birds notice passing aircraft from the nest but are not disturbed by them.

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