Australia is home to a wide range of interesting animals, including the large wedge-tailed eagle. The eagles typically weigh around nine pounds and have an average wingspan of about eight feet. These dark-colored eagles use their massive wingspan to full advantage and often spend hours upon hours gliding at high altitudes (often a mile or more above the ground).
Wedge-tailed eagles are fearsome predators and the largest bird of prey found in Australia. They’ll eat everything from small animals like rabbits to larger animals like small kangaroos. In addition to their size and status as the largest aerial predator on the continent, they’re also very notable for their territorial aggression. Each breeding pair maintains a large territory around their nesting spot that can range from four to forty square miles in size. The wedge-tailed eagles are nothing if not fierce when it comes to defending the boundaries of these territories and will attack anything they perceive as a threat including not just other birds, but paragliders, radio-controlled planes, and survey drones.
The latter are used extensively to survey Australia, but over the last few years, eagle attacks have damaged countless drones. The eagles dive-bomb the drones and tear into them with razor sharp talons, a maneuver that is both costly (many of the drones can cost up to $80,000) and potentially catastrophic to the already endangered species—the birds are used to attacking soft targets like other birds, not giant rigid structures like the large mining drones. As a result, the survey companies have tried a variety of tactics to deter the attacks including changing the colors of the drones and flying them at different hours of the day, but so far to little avail.
Image by of Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (GFDL v1.2)