Bonelli's Eagle

A controversial subject but a magnificent bird

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This is a Bonelli’s Eagle, an endangered species of Europe, especially of Spain and Portugal. This shot was taken from a blind near the Portugal-Spain border in protected area, Parque Natural do Douro International. There is one pair of breeding Bonelli’s Eagles near here; one of only 11 pairs in Northern Spain. The park gives a concession to a company that has a permanent hide (11 years). Once per week they place a dead rabbit on rocks in front of the hide which attracts both the male and female during the nesting season. Photographers are allowed to go to the hide before dawn (in the dark) and leave after dark at night. The bait (dead rabbit) is placed once per week so as to not disrupt the normal feeding and territorial behaviors of the Eagles. All money charged goes into a trust that is used to purchase more land for the reserve. In “non-COVID” times, this hide is reserved years in advance.
This was a moving, emotional experience for my wife and me. An absolutely magnificent bird.
Baiting raptors is a controversial subject, probably in large part due to the practice of using live mice to attract Snowy Owls. IMO our experience in Spain with these magnificent birds proved to us that “not all baiting of raptors is equal”.

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Mike Warner
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Thank you for the story behind the pic on the Bonelli’s Eagle baiting. Through the practice perhaps more people (like me) can become aware of this endangered species.

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