Searching for raptor nests on the Northern Tablelands

05th Jun 2017

Submitted by Northern Tablelands Local Land Services


Have you seen Little Eagles, Sea Eagles or Square-tailed Kites on your place?

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services is on the lookout for the nesting sites of local birds of prey, specifically the Little Eagle, the Square-tailed Kite, and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

“We’re particularly looking for land managers willing to host researchers on farm,” said Senior Land Services Officer, Carina Johnson.

“The researchers will watch the nests during the breeding season to find out how many chicks survive to fledgling when they leave the nest on their first flight.”

The Birds Of Prey Monitoring project aims to raise awareness of raptor species that live on the Northern Tablelands and to halt the decline in local populations of the Little Eagle, the Square-tailed Kite, and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

All three species build a stick nest in a large living tree, usually a woodland eucalypt. The nests of Little Eagles are about the size of a crow or raven’s nest and are sometimes hidden in mistletoe. Square-tailed Kite nests are larger, flatter and typically found in a horizontal tree fork.

Sea-Eagles build a huge nest, similar in size to a Wedge-tailed Eagle nest, near a substantial water body such as a river, lake or reservoir. These birds may reveal a nest site by calling a lot and carrying sticks or green foliage in winter or spring.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services held a series of Raptor Field Days earlier in the year at Armidale, Ben Lomond and Inverell, which attracted strong interest from the community.

“At the first event on a rainy day in Armidale we had about 25 people come along and while we struggled to spot any birds at the Imbota Nature Reserve and Gara Dam, we were lucky enough to see a Kestrel and a Little Eagle at our last site of the day at Blue Wren Road,” reported Carina.

“It was a very cold and windy day at Ben Lomond and while we humans weren’t enjoying the weather, the birds were out and about. We saw a Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kites at Little Llangothlin, and we used binoculars to view a Sea-Eagle nesting site on a neighbouring property.”

“On a much more pleasant day at Inverell the birds of prey entered on cue with a Little Eagle, then a Whistling Kite soaring overhead. We also observed Whistling Kites at a picnic site near Lake Inverell and a Collared Sparrowhawk was spotted fleetingly in Goonoowigall Reserve.”

“Unfortunately the Little Eagle, Square-tailed Kite, and White-bellied Sea-Eagle are all listed in NSW as threatened species with populations dropping to the point of being at risk of extinction in this state.”

“The Northern Tablelands may be one of the few places where bird of prey habitat is still in relatively good condition, however there are concerns the breeding success and life expectancy of these birds is in decline,” said Carina.

“As top predators, birds of prey are indicators of a healthy ecosystem, but we need to gather better evidence and information about their numbers and whether they are successfully breeding new generations.”

Landholders and other members of the community who can help Local Land Services to identify the location of a nest for monitoring will each receive a free copy of ‘Birds of Prey of Australia - A Field Guide’, written by raptor expert, Steve Debus.

The Birds of Prey Monitoring Project is a partnership between the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the New England North West Biodiversity Alliance and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services. 


For more information contact Carina Johnson at Northern Tablelands Local Land Services on

02 6770 2000 or email 

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