The Pyrenean eagle, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world, could spend several days in Alaire (Haute-Loire)

The Pyrenean burial eagle, or Iberian eagle (Aquila adalberti), one of the rarest birds of prey in Europe and even in the world (only 400 pairs are registered in the Iberian Peninsula and in northern Morocco), could well make a stopover in Haute-Loire during July.

In any case, that’s what naturalist Philippe Cauchet, a former expert with the Auvergne Regional Natural Heritage Scientific Council and an ornithologist for 50 years, advocates. An observation he presents in support of the photo. While living in Aleiras, he spotted the bird during a nature walk in the upper part of town, in the Natura 2000 Gorges de l’Allier area.

Very wild part, no road. This is a bird that is afraid to disturb. I saw him one evening. I returned to the scene the next day and fortunately saw him again. I watched it two or three times in total. He stayed for several days. The last time I saw him was noon, he took the rising currents, went very high in the sky to go south.

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To clarify his observations, the ornithologist took many photos of the predator. Some have silver fir cones in the background, proof that the photo was not taken in Spain. For him, without a doubt, this, according to the color of the feathers, is a young Pyrenean eagle in the second or third year of life. “I have already observed this species in Andalucia. »

Adults are very dark, all black with white shoulder pads. But a sexually mature individual is completely different: it is dark on the back, and the entire thorax is of an isabel color (greyish-orange-yellow). It was the only thing possible.

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Other key points were added to these distinctive colors: the shape of an eagle with long and wide wings, a long square tail. And unlike the buzzard, a prominent head, finger-like remiges at the end of the wings and, above all, about 1 m more in wingspan. “The Iberian eagle has a wingspan of 1.90 to 2.20 m and weighs 3.5 to 4.5 kg,” adds Philippe Cochet.Photo by PHILIP COCHE

And he, according to him, does not compare with the golden eagle, with which it can be confused in adulthood: “an immature golden eagle has two small white spots under the wings and has a white lower tail with a black tip. »

habitat. The Pyrenean eagle population of about 400 pairs is found in Spain, Portugal and North West Africa. Nests on trees.
feed. “In Spain, the main diet is rabbits. It can also eat birds, insects, carrion, reptiles… And it can also eat fish. He is very opportunistic. But it can only attack small prey. »
In danger. The Pyrenean eagle is classified as a protected species because it is endangered and vulnerable.

The observation is pending approval

Other elements relating more to the behavior of this predator lead the naturalist to the conclusion that it can only be an Iberian eagle. Let’s start with the place of observation: the golden eagle prefers to nest on rocky areas. Pyrenean eagle on the plateau, lowlands, on trees. “This is a sedentary species. Puberty is reached at 6-7 years, and the life expectancy is 45 years. Pairs are made for life, and young people don’t move much, explains Philippe Cauchet. But the immature, more daring will explore remote areas for a while. A bird from Andalusia was observed 1,500 km from its home in Libya. »Photo by PHILIP COCHE

The period when these careless immature individuals migrate is usually between June and October. It was noticed in July that the terms are being kept. In addition, it is a bird of prey that moves when the conditions are favorable: it uses the rising currents of hot air like vultures. “It was hot this year, which could explain why he came here. “A very rare journey, insists Philippe Cauchet:

Since the 19th century, only nine Iberian eagles have been seen in the Pyrenees and two in the Camargue. This would bring us to the twelve individuals observed in France. And it would be the first in the Massif Central and in the Auvergne, 700 km from the first breeding pairs.

Now the naturalist remains to confirm his observation. “This should be done by the National Committee for Homologation,” which maintains a database of accidental species in France.

Pierre Hebrard


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