Little Eagle travels 3,300 kilometres in first ever research

Local researchers are seeing fascinating results from satellite tracking which followed the travel patterns of a male Little Eagle 3,300 kilometres from Canberra to the Northern Territory.

Little eagleThe eagle was fitted with the tracker over a year ago but in March this year, it left its Canberra home and travelled north over a period of three weeks. The research, conducted by the ACT Government, University of Canberra, CSIRO and Ginninderry Joint Venture has discovered the bird at one stage flew 500 kilometres in a day and reached a speed of 55 kilometres per hour at one point.

This long distance traveller is one in a pair of Little Eagles who successfully raised a chick in West Belconnen during spring/summer. During the nesting season, the male is thought to have hunted mainly juvenile rabbits and middle sized birds such as magpies, rosellas and starlings  over an area of 65 square kilometres, ranging from the junction of the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee rivers north-east to the CSIRO land along the Barton Highway and north to Wallaroo in NSW.

Little eagle eatingThe little eagle was suspected of migrating between breeding and wintering territories. This study provides the first proof of this and a clear indication of the vast distances involved.

The research project will further study the ecology of the little eagle in the coming year through plans to place cameras at nest locations and attaching trackers to additional birds. The knowledge gained will guide future management and development decisions.

The little eagle is one quarter the size of a wedge-tailed eagle and one of the smallest eagles in the world. Over the last 30 years it is thought to have undergone a population decline, and the species is listed as threatened in both NSW and the ACT.

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Next steps

Experts think there are more breeding pairs of this secretive species than currently recognised. If you see Little Eagles in the ACT region, especially pairs or trios, you could assist by reporting them: