The Bonelli’s Eagle is a bird of prey found in southern Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Bonelli’s Eagle wingspan can reach up to 5 feet 11 inches wide. This makes it one of the largest birds of prey in Europe.
With its impressive size and hunting skills, Bonelli’s quickly becomes a favorite among bird enthusiasts and Wingspan game players alike. Join us as we take a closer look at this magnificent bird and answer your top 10 FAQs!
What Species is Bonelli’s Eagle?
Like all eagles, it’s a member of the Accipitridae family. It was identified as a member of the Aquilinae or “booted eagle” subfamily because of its feathered legs.
Fun Fact: Historically, this eagle was also called the Crestless Hawk-Eagle.
Bonelli’s Eagle gets its name from the Italian ornithologist Franco Andrea Bonelli. It’s thought that he discovered the Eagle while exploring in Sardinia.
Bonelli’s Eagle Identification: What Does it Look Like?
This bird is easy to identify in flight. It’s typically seen soaring high above distant ridgelines. Look for bulging secondaries and narrowing of the wings where they meet the body.
The obvious shallow “fingers” to its wings stand out in contrast to the deep fingers of other eagles. These slender wings make it look smaller than other eagles.
Bonelli is stocky with an athletic build. It’s not the largest bird of prey in Europe but is medium-sized instead.
Adult eagles have dark brown plumage with lighter streaks on their chest and belly. They also have distinctive dark edges on their tail. Juvenile birds are generally lighter in color with more extensive streaks and lack the broad dark band that’s present on the tail of adults.
Listen to a female Bonelli’s Eagle call:
How Big is Bonelli’s Eagle?
A Bonelli is one of the largest raptors in Europe. The Bonelli’s Eagle wingspan can reach up to 5′ 11″! Its body measures 21.6 to 26 inches long.
Bonelli’s Eagle Wingspan
Females are generally larger than males, having an average wingspan of 5′ 1″ to 5′ 11″.
The male, on the other hand, has an average wingspan of 4′ 8″ to 5′ 4″.
Bonelli’s Eagle Weight
The Crestless Hawk-Eagle is also one of the heavier birds in Europe, weighing in at 3 to 6.6 lbs.
What Does the Bonelli Eat
The Bonelli’s Eagle prefers to feed on:
- Red Squirrel
- Black Rats
When its preferred food source is scarce, it will switch to being an opportunistic predator, feeding on various other birds and even occasionally sheep and fox.
Bonelli’s Eagle Speed: How Fast Can It Fly?
It’s said that they are faster than a Falcon, with the skills of the sparrowhawk. To put this in perspective, the Peregrine Falcon can exceed 200 mph in its dives!
Bonelli’s Eagle is a force to be reckoned with and is somewhat famous for its speed. When just cruising around, Bonelli’s average is 50 mph, but they can reach speed bursts of 200 mph+ when diving after prey. Those prey don’t stand a chance!
Where Does Bonelli’s Eagle Live?
This species is distributed unevenly across central equator regions. It’s primarily non-migratory and a resident breeder.
The Bonelli can be found in:
- Southern Europe
- Northern Africa
In Europe, they are found in countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. They can also be found in parts of the Middle East.
What is the Preferred Habitat of the Crestless Hawk-Eagle?
The Bonelli’s Eagle prefers to live in remote open woodlands with scattered trees. They can also be found in mountains, cliffs, and ravines.
You can find its nest on ledges and edges of cliffs and in caves. Incredibly, these birds use the same nest for their entire lifespan!
Bonelli’s Eagle Lifespan: How Long Does it Live?
This booted leg eagle has a lifespan of around 20 years in the wild. However, they have been known to live up to 30 years in captivity.
Bonelli’s Eagle Population: How Many are There?
The Crestless Hawk-Eagle is a reasonably rare raptor, with an estimated global population of around 20,000 to 24,000 mature birds. 10% are in Europe.
Sadly, the worldwide population of this bird species is currently declining because of:
- Pesticide use
- Habitat destruction
- Loss of prey
- Getting hit by power lines
- Persecution by hunters
- Persecution by pigeon fanciers
There are efforts to reduce the electrocution of Bonelli’s due to power line collisions in Spain.
Why is the Bonelli’s Eagle Card a Favorite Among Wingspan Players?
Bonelli’s Eagle is a powerful Wingspan card to play. Chances of using it effectively increase if you set up a card-drawing engine (Eagle Digging). It’s potentially an 11-point play without incurring any food cost if you tuck cards for the food cost instead.
Bonelli’s Eagle Card Value: 8 VP
Bird Cost: 3 Rats or 3 Card Tucks
Habitat: Water, Grassland, or Forest
Bonelli’s Eagle Card Text: WHEN PLAYED For each rat in this bird cost, you may pay 1 card from your hand instead. If you do, tuck the paid card behind this card.
Final Thoughts for Bird Lovers
A Bonelli’s Eagle Wingspan play is a powerful move. Just like in the wild, its presence naturally demands attention.
If you haven’t discovered or played the Wingspan board game and you’re a bird lover, definitely check it out! We highly recommend it for the theme, bird art, and playability.
There are digital versions for PC, Mac, iPad, Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation. If you like a more hands-on gaming experience, there’s even a tabletop version.
Be sure to wander around Wingsplain and learn how to beat your opponents with our Wingspan strategy articles!