A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Identifying Large Birds of Prey

This group is generally difficult to master in the field owing to long range or brief sightings, variations in plumage, similarities in flight silhouette between related species, infrequency of calls and rareness of most species offering few opportunities to practise. Don't expect reliable identification in the field ever! However a photograph on a screen can go a long way to providing an identification. If all else falls I send my photos off to a raptor expert in England! Sometimes over Symi this happens, booted eagles on migration and the next few pics show the wide variation in markings of the booted eagle.

Below shows a Bonelli's eagle, both pics of the same bird but the white marking on the back is a good identification mark for a Bonelli's eagle.

Another favourite of mine that visits Symi is the short toed eagle. Here under magnification the tail has three evenly spaced bars and the wing lacks the distinctive comma of the buzzard. I was lucky, the one below came down for a rest.

Another regular to Symi is the long legged buzzard often mistaken for a golden eagle. Just to complicate matters this is a dark morph with its dark tail bar and white primary inners. This bird loves to glide and soar, rarely flapping its wings. Much better to identify if perched in a tree with its dark belly and brown trousers.


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