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Healesville Sanctuary

Wedge-tailed Eagle

The ‘wedgie’, soaring up to 2km high on thermal air currents, is one of the most impressive sights in the Australian sky, and at Healesville Sanctuary you have a chance to see these magnificent birds at close range.

Wedge-tailed eagles are classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). The Tasmanian subspecies (Aquila audax fleayi) is listed as endangered by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Meeting the Wedge-tailed Eagles at Healesville Sanctuary is an important way to connect with the animals of Australia, and to learn about the Sanctuary’s conservation programs, especially those aimed at conserving threatened native species. The money you spend helps to support the Sanctuary’s conservation programs and its care of native wildlife as well as fight species extinction. 

Wedge-tailed Eagles are Australia’s largest raptor (bird of prey).

Threats to this species once included humans, who believed that they killed livestock. Many thousands of birds are thought to have been hunted and killed. It is now understood that they don’t attack and kill healthy lambs. They are protected throughout Australia.

An adult Wedge-tailed Eagle has a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres. They weigh about 4kg.

Wedge-tailed Eagles hunt and eat small animals such as rabbits, feral cats, reptiles, small kangaroos, possums and foxes. They also eat road kill.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are seen over bush and open country throughout Australia.

An eagle pair ‘mates for life’ and shares nest (‘eyrie’) duties. They may have two eggs in a season but usually only one chick survives. The chicks are independent of their parents within 3 months of hatching.


Jess is the oldest animal at the sanctuary at 41 years old, and having performed in Spirits of the Sky shows for 20 years he is definitely the most experienced member of the team (staff or bird). 


Magra is the largest bird in the Spirits of the Sky show and is happy to show off her impressive size by flying inches over the audience’s heads. She also loves a shoulder massage every morning.

Jess flying

Vale Jess

The staff and volunteers of Healesville Sanctuary are saddened to announce the passing of Jess, the Wedge-tailed Eagle. A remarkable bird, Jess called the Sanctuary home for more than 40 years.

19 July 2018
In surgery

Cancer treatment first at Healesville Sanctuary

Healesville Sanctuary’s oldest animal, Jess, a 46-year-old Wedge-tailed Eagle underwent radiation treatment yesterday.

This is the first time this kind of procedure has been performed in the Sanctuary’s 83 year history.

17 January 2017