aquila audax

I mentioned in my previous post that I was considering writing a post dedicated to the wedge-tailed eagle, my most favourite animal, so that’s basically what I’m going to do here.

From a very young age, I’ve had a fascination with birds. I remember as a kid, I had a poster of various Australian birds. It was a lift-out from the newspaper, so it faded over time, and I eventually took it down (and replaced it with a postcard mural), but it was there, on the wall above my bed, for many years. I’m not sure what it is that I really like about birds, but I have a few theories.

For one, they are beautiful. They are unusual but they are beautiful. Secondly, they can fly – something that we humans could never execute or replicate with the same finesse. Note here that I don’t have a great affinity for flightless birds (emus, penguins and the like). I mean, they’re ok – I don’t have anything specifically against them – but, to me, they don’t compare to birds that fly.

Of course, there are probably birds out there that I just do not like at all. I just can’t think of any right now.

I used to wonder if my affinity for birds was related to my desire for freedom, or if it had something to do with my fear of falling (I’m ok with heights as long as I’m confidently secure, so I consider it a fear of falling rather than of heights). As a kid, I particularly liked birds of prey. Perhaps that’s saying something too… But then I also liked more peaceable birds. Yes, despite their ubiquity, their reputation as “rats of the sky”, their general lack of anything that usually recommends an animal to “favourite” status – despite all this, I like pigeons. Such simple, unassuming creatures they are.

I was going to include an actual picture of a wedge-tailed eagle but I couldn't decide which one of the many Google results was the best photo, so I'm just giving you my trademark stick pigeon that I drew in about five seconds on Paint.

I was going to include an actual picture of a wedge-tailed eagle but I couldn’t decide which one of the many Google results was the best photo, so I’m just giving you my trademark stick pigeon that I drew in about five seconds on Paint.

But amongst all of these birds, one always stood out for me: the wedge-tailed eagle.

While reading “The Anatomy of Wings” (by Karen Foxlee), I mentioned to a few colleagues that small detail about the protagonist (Jenny) having the same favourite animal as me. I was then asked a few questions about the wedge-tailed eagle (you know, just out of interest), and I realised that I actually didn’t know a whole lot about them.

I probably knew a lot more about them at some stage in my life (probably in my high school years when I had better access to resources that could tell me a lot about them, and when I had time to read such things) but that day at the lunch table at work, I couldn’t confidently recite any facts about the wedge-tailed eagle. A bit concerning, maybe, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Nevertheless, this prompted me to question why it is, indeed, my most favourite animal.

At one point, I wondered if it was kind of similar to how (I would presume) Americans might like bald eagles because it’s an iconic American bird. (The “audax” part of the wedge-tailed eagle’s scientific name translates to “bold”, which is kind of similar/close…) But the wedge-tailed eagle doesn’t feature on our coat of arms, or on any sort of official emblems and such. So it’s probably not a patriotic thing. (If patriotism had anything to do with it, I’d probably like emus more. Not that I don’t like them, but they can be scary. Cassowaries too.)

As a kid, I probably just thought they looked cool. They’re such mighty, majestic birds: so much power in their talons, so much strength in their wings. Perhaps, then, they are a sentimental favourite: they made such a big impression on me as a kid that I’ve just liked them ever since. This is very possible.

What else is odd, however, is that I don’t really have anything to show or suggest that I like wedge-tailed eagles. Sure, toy stores don’t exactly sell plush eagles and whatnot like they do for dogs and tigers and bears, but if you went through all of my things, I doubt you’d find anything eagle-related, let alone wedge-tailed eagle-related. You’re more likely to think that owls or cats were my most favourite animal. (I do like owls and cats, though, so that’s ok, I guess.)

In “The Anatomy of Wings”, Jenny says she doesn’t really have a definite reason why wedge-tailed eagles are her favourite bird. They just are. I guess the reason doesn’t really matter; there doesn’t have to be an explanation. Wedge-tailed eagles are my favourite animals just because.