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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995



photo osprey

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.

Bonelli's Eagle

Hieraeetus fasciatus   –   Aigle de Bonelli

Brown with light spotting. Sized between the Golden Eagle and the Buzzard.

Size

66-74 cm

Distinctions

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.

Habitat

Rocky or wooded mountains and steep hills; open country in the winter.


Golden Eagle

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.

Size

75-88 cm

Distinctions

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.


Short-Toed Eagle

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).

Size

63-69 cm

Distinctions

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.

Habitat

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.


Osprey

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.

Size

51-58 cm

Distinctions

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.

Habitat

Usually near water: lakes, marshes and streams.