Classe: Uccelli (Aves)
Dimensions: length 60-75 cm, wingspan 160-190 cm
Life: 20 years220 years
Habitat: it lives in very different habitats, with forests and open spaces where it can hunt, and rock faces where it nests. In Italy, its presence is limited to the Alps and the Apennines, up to 2,000 meters of altitude.
Diet: its diet is quite varied: its preys can be small (for example insects) or of larger size (for example hares). It prefers mammals and birds, including many predators (night and day raptors and land carnivores such as foxes).
Reproduction: the male attracts the female in his territory with a typical call, which during the mating season (January-March) may be repeated up to 700 times per night. Like all nocturnal raptors, it does not build a nest but lays its eggs in cavities and cracks, often on rock faces. The eggs are usually 2-3 and are hatched only by the female.
Cubs: the chicks are blind and inept and are protected and fed by their mother, while the father gets food for the whole family. After a month, the chicks can walk around the nest. It is therefore more difficult for predators to identify these big chicks. Thanks to her sharp senses, the mother has no difficulties in finding them again to feed them.
Curiosities: the chicks utter a particular sound, similar to that of a ripped cloth, in order to draw their parents' attention and ask them for food. Each chick may repeat this call up to 2,000 times per night.
Notes: It is the largest nocturnal raptor and is an excellent predator. It swallows its victims in big pieces and often even as a whole. Indigestable parts (bones, hair, feathers) are rejected after some hours in compact bullets, called "boluses" or "wads".
(photo by Enrico Canal (CTA-CFS))