It breeds in southern Europe, Africa both north and south of the Sahara Desert and across the Middle East and South Asia to Indonesia. It is usually a resident breeder which lays 1-3 eggs in a tree or crag nest.
The Bonelli's eagle is found in wooded, often hilly, country with some open areas. The African race prefers savannah, forest edges, cultivation, and scrub, provided there are some large trees; this is not a species of very open or densely forested habitats.
This is a small- to medium-sized eagle at 55–65 cm in length. The upperparts are dark brown, and the underside is white with dark streaks. The wings are relatively short and rounded. The long tail is grey on top and white below and has a single broad black terminal band. The feet and eyes are yellow.
Immature birds have deep buff underparts and underwing coverts, and have fine barring on the tail without the terminal band.
The Bonelli's eagle takes a wide range of live prey, all taken alive. It usually hunts from cover by a quick dash from inside a tree, but it will also catch prey by quartering hill slopes like other eagles, or make a stoop from a soaring position. Most prey is taken on the ground.
This eagle takes large prey items, usually mammals or birds. Mammals up to the size of a hare are regularly taken, and birds up to guineafowl size. The Bonelli's eagle is usually silent except in display and near the nest. Its fluted klu-kluklu-kluee call is less shrill than that of its near relatives.
Conservation and rehabilitation
Bonelli's eagles will foster orphaned chicks of the same species in an empty nest, but only if egg or chick loss has happened a few hours earlier. Also they will foster chicks during the post-fledging dependence period, and this conservation strategy may be applicable to other raptor species provided that siblicide is not common in the host species.
- BirdLife International (2004). Hieraaetus fasciatus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
- Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists - Martin Collinson, British Birds vol 99 (June 2006), 306-323
- Lerner, H. R. L. and D. P. Mindell (2005). Phylogeny of eagles, Old World vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37: 327-346. PDF
- Helbig AJ, Kocum A, Seibold I & Braun MJ (2005) A multi-gene phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive paraphyly at the genus level. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 35(1):147-164 PDF
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- Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Bird? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 59.
- Pande, Satish; Pawshe, Amit; Pednekar, Banda; Mahabal, Anil & Yosef, Reuven (2004). "How long is too long? A case of fostering nestling Bonelli's Eagles (Hieraaetus fasciatus)". Journal of Raptor Research (The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.) 38 (4): 381–382.
- Bonelli's eagle in Spain
- Web page of the Conservation Biology Team - Bonelli's eagle, of the University of Barcelona
- Ageing and sexing (PDF; 5.4 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze