Levanzo’s Birds of Prey
The Kestrel is the first type of falcon on this list. This particular bird is well known for its typical hunting method, it hovers at a height of around twenty to thirty metres over an expanse of land; once it spots its prey it swoops down to make the kill. Unlike most falcons, the kestrel’s plumage differs between the male and female of the species though, like most other falcons, the female is slightly larger in proportion. A kestrel does not build its own nest but rather steals the nest built by another species instead.
Peregrine Falcon is a bird of prey widespread enough to see all over the world and Levanzo is no exception. It’s a highly respected falconry bird due to its excellent hunting ability. The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world, when executing its ‘hunting stoop’ which is a high-speed dive it can reach speeds around 200mph. According to National Geographic the highest recorded speed of the peregrine falcon is a whopping 242mph.
Vultures are a scavenging bird of prey. They will rarely attack a healthy animal, thought will sometimes attack wounded or sick prey, but they will usually eat their prey once it has already died. Their stomach acid is especially corrosive; this allows them to digest decaying carcasses with all sorts of diseases like cholera and even anthrax bacteria. If there is an abundance of food, they will gorge themselves until their crops bulge, storing as much food as possible. In the past, hoards have been seen feeding off the dead after battles. Though don’t worry, I can’t see that being a problem in the sleepy Aegadian Islands.
Though they breed in woodlands buzzards prefer hunting over open land which makes Levanzo’s mostly barren and rocky landscape perfect for them. Their diet consists mainly on small and medium mammals, but they will also eat lizards, snakes, worms and insects. During spring, in order to attract a mate, the males will perform a spectacular areal display that is known as ‘the rollercoaster’. It begins with a high rise in the sky, then it dives downward in a spiral motion, twisting and turning until he swoops back upward to repeat the motions. It is truly a sight to be seen.
Named after the Italian ornithologist and collector Franco Andrea Bonelli, Bonnelli’s Eagle is bird is the rarest to be seen on Levanzo. These are usually found in mountainous or hilly regions and prefer dryer climates. They breed in large trees or on crags in nests up to two metres in diameter. It’s a medium to great sized eagle, usually measuring between 22 and 26 inches in length. Bonnelli’s eagle typically feeds on large prey items, birds up to the size of guineafowl and mammals up to the size of hares are often hunted. It is usually silent unless near its nest, so if you hope to do a bit of bird watching you had better keep your eyes peeled.