Bonelli's eagle

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Bonelli's eagle
Bonelli's Eagle.jpg
Perched on a tree near a wetland in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
Species: A. fasciata
Binomial name
Aquila fasciata
(Vieillot, 1822)
  • Hieraaetus fasciatus
  • Aquila fasciatus

The Bonelli's eagle (Aquila fasciata) is a large bird of prey. Like all eagles, it belongs to the family Accipitridae.

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.

Artwork from a 19th-century German Natural History book
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

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.

Recent DNA research resulted in this species being moved to the genus Aquila from Hieraaetus.[2]

The common name of the bird commemorates the Italian ornithologist and collector Franco Andrea Bonelli.[3]


This is a small- to medium-sized eagle at 55–65 cm (22–26 in) 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 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.

Bonelli's eagle in flight
Bonelli's eagle feeding its eaglet with a partridge.
Juvenile in Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, India.
Juvenile Bonelli's eagle in flight,in rural Sangli district


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.

Conservation and rehabilitation[edit]

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.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Aquila fasciata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Helbig, A.J.; Kocum, A.; Seibold, I.; Braun, M.J. (2005). "A multi-gene phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive paraphyly at the genus level" (PDF). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 35 (1): 147–164. 
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Bird? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 59. ISBN 978-0713666472. 
  4. ^ 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. 

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