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Mount Etna is a planet apart, a unique small world inserted in another “small world”, Sicily, in the center of the Mediterranean. This means that the fauna that populates our volcano is particular in many aspects, including that which involves the reintroduction of species into the environment. And so, the eagles fly again on the soaring craters and join the birds of prey that already have their territory here, such as the buzzards. Let’s get to know these two majestic elements of the Etna fauna better.

eagle buzzard 2The buzzards

The buzzard (or buzzago, or buteo) is one of the most widespread birds of prey in Europe and Asia. It has quite small dimensions, in fact it almost never exceeds 60 cm in length, with a wingspan that can even reach 1.5 metres. The color is always brown, with a few lighter feathers under the wings, with a short tail. The buzzard loves to live in wooded areas, especially among pine trees. On Mount Etna it therefore prefers the wooded sides of the volcano, on the eastern and northern slopes, but it is not uncommon to find it elsewhere too. Its diet is varied, in fact it can attack both wild animals and farm animals and sometimes even pets. The Etna buzzard has learned to be stationary, in fact it seems to have its own nests near or even on the slopes of the great volcano, then moving to the various hunting territories.

The eagle on Etna

It is known for certain that, to date, there are two pairs of golden eagles that have returned to hunt in the Etna territory. These majestic birds of prey were reintroduced a few years ago, after having completely disappeared from the volcano areas. The golden eagle is a bird that dominates the food pyramid, with its very powerful sight which even allows it to “zoom” on its prey and then attack and ingest even very large animals such as foxes. The body measures approximately 100 cm and its full wingspan exceeds 2 meters! The golden eagle, easily recognizable by the lighter feathers on the neck and the large yellow beak, loves mountain tops and rocky areas with few trees: it nests in rock caves or on ledges. The golden eagle on Etna has recently returned and still shuttles between the volcano and the Nebrodi ranges, given that it can travel enormous distances with ease. Eagles usually hunt in pairs, a strategy that makes them practically unbeatable. On Etna, eagles are easily spotted on the west and east sides.

Not just eagles and buzzards

The rapacious panorama of Etna goes far beyond the noble eagles and buzzards. In fact, peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks, kestrels and minor eagles also hover over the volcano.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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