Eagles are very large birds, with broad wings and tail. The legs are thickly feathered.
Eagles, hawks, buzzards and vultures are symbolic of the mountainous Beyond region, usually seen soaring majestically, riding thermals without a wing-beat, and occasionally stooping to some hapless prey. These are diurnal birds of prey, with hooked bills and powerful talons adapted to hunting. Identification is difficult: they're usually seen at a distance, with no reference for size, and often silhouetted by the sky.
Hieraeetus fasciatus – Aigle de Bonelli
Brown with light spotting. Sized between the Golden Eagle and the Buzzard.
Wings long and partially pointed; very pale underside, with dark stripe down the wing and dark band across the end of the tail; tail long and narrow.
Rocky or wooded mountains and steep hills; open country in the winter.
Aquila chrysaetos – Aigle royal
A majestic bird, medium brown, with lighter brown head. Live year-round in the Beyond region. The Golden Eagle soars and glides for hours at a time.
Mountains and hills. Several live on the hillside south of Cabris, and can sometimes be seen soaring over the Forêt de Pégros near Auribeau-sur-Siagne.
Circaetus gallicus – Circaète Jean-le-Blanc
The Short-Toed Eagle is sometimes called the Snake Eagle, as its preferred food is snakes. It's a is a summer resident in the Beyond region, seen often on the Calern Plateau (Plateau de Calern).
Similar to the Osprey, except: the Short-Toed Eagle has almost completely white undersides; it does not have the dark patches on the wings or head, and the head is more rounded; the tail is wider and more fan-shaped. Additional indications are the yellow eyes, very pale and lightly barred underwing. The grey one (photo) is quite dark beneath, and is probably young.
Near trees and scattered woods, open planes and hills; nests in low trees. Seen in the Camargue and the Alpilles, and hunts frequently in the Crau. Often seen on the Calern Plateau (Plateau de Calern) in the Alpes-Maritimes, behind Grasse.
Pandion haliaetus – Balbuzard pêcheur
A regular visitor during the spring and autumn migrations. Perches on trees or posts, especially in or next to the water. Slow, flapping flight, similar to gulls; hovers over water while hunting. Fishes by diving into the water.
Nearly all-white underside, with dark patches on the wings; dark brown back and top of wings, and dark stripes along the sides of the neck and head.
Usually near water: lakes, marshes and streams.