Short-toed snake eagle tracking



This project began in the 2010 from a collaboration between the Vertebrate Zoology Group at the University of Alicante (Spain) and the Regional Park  Gallipoli-Cognato Piccole Dolomiti Lucane (Italy), involving MEDRAPTORS members since the beginning. Between the 2010 and the 2013 seven young eagles have been tagged, confirming previous results on the detoured route through the Iberian peninsula (see references below).

A resume of the main results is available here.

One of these eagles, Egidio, reached adulthood and bred successfully in the 2019 while still transmitting data. We tagged his son, Michele, in collaboration with Techno Smart. Follow their movements in the maps below.


Unfortunately Egidio stopped to send data during January 2022, probably because the transmitter became too old. However, in July we tagged another young female short-toed eagle, Luna. Follow its journey here:

14/4/2021: Michele’s transmitter “wake up” again! Now we know he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar on April, 6. He is currently in Catalunya, heading to France (green track). We are very happy to know that this bird is doing so well!

16/3/2021: Egidio arrived to his breeding territory! This has been the 8th spring migration undertook by Egidio. Considering all the movements made throughout his life, he already covered more than 4 times the circumference of Earth!

15/2/2021: Egidio started his spring migration! We will have to wait more weeks to know the whereabouts of Michele.



Michele, now in his 2nd calendar year, started to migrate on the 15/9. See the yellow track in the map.


12/5/2020: After a travel lasting more than 7000 km, Michele reached his “goal”! We write this because he arrived to the territory where he was born, but probably he will start to show dispersal movements between Puglia and Basilicata, as he is still to young to occupy a territory. However, we may wonder if he met his parents and what they say each other!

8/5/2020: Michele entered in Italy from Switzerland. Afterwards, he followed a path besides the big pre-alpine lakes and reach the Po Delta. Let’s see if today he will turn towards the South!

5/5/2020: after entering France, Michele followed the Mediterranean coast a bit, but then turned to the North, parallel to the western slopes of the Alps, and is now in Chamonix, just below the Monte Bianco! It would be amazing if, after having avoided the Pyrenees, Michele will cross the Alps just in their highest region!

1/5/2020: after wandering a bit in Portugal, Michele continued his travel to the north, avoiding the Cantabrian mountains and also the Pyrenees, finally crossing to France just besides the Mediterranean coast. It is interesting to note that also during the autumn journey he avoided this mountain chain, but got into the Iberian peninsula on the opposite side, in the Basque country.

19/4/2020: Michele crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and is spending the night close to Sevilla.

18/4/2020 – BREAKING NEWS: Michele’s transmitter wake up again! He departed from his second wintering area in Mali (the first one was in Burkina Faso) at the beginning of april. He is currently on the African shore of the Strait of Gibraltar, probably waiting for good weather conditions in order to cross the sea. This would be quite surprising, as the majority of immature short-toed eagles spend their first summer in North Africa, but his father Egidio was already an exception to the rule. Check the green track on the map below.

19/3/2020: Egidio started his journey from Mali on the 19/2 and arrived in his breeding territory in Southern Italy on the 12/3. On the 23/2 he spent the whole day sitting on acacia trees in the Western Sahara, during a sandstorm. You can see a detailed map in our blog.
We are hoping to get data from Michele in the next month, as soon as he will reach an area with mobile coverage: immatures start their spring migration much later than adults.



19/11/2019: we are not receiving data from Michele since a couple of weeks. The GPS used with this eagle uses the GSM network to transmit the data. Probably he did not cross anymore areas with mobile coverage and therefore we will have to wait several weeks or months to know the whereabouts of Michele. However, we are confident that he is already exploring his wintering grounds in the Sahel.

30/10/2019: finally Michele crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, in a calm day with weak westerly winds!

28/10/2019: Michele stopped for some days in the steppes of la Serena (Extremadura), where he probably had good hunting oppurtunities, thanks to the gentle temperatures. Today, he began to travel again, reaching the Sierra Morena hills close to Sevilla. Meanwhile, Egidio is already enjoying his traditional wintering area in Mali.

22/10/2019: Michele has been observed by a local ornithologist close to Burgos, also attempting to hunt some prey. Afterwords, he resumed migration, employing a couple of days to reach the Segovia area. From here, it crossed the mountains of central Spain, finally showing a good migration day (ca. 200 km) and entering Extremadura. Instead, Egidio is already flying over the endless sands of Mauritania.

17/9: while Egidio crossed already the Strait of Gibraltar, and is about to enter in the Sahara desert, Michele is still in Northern Spain, close to Burgos, delayed by bad weather. In the last three days he moved in a quite restricted area. Hopefully he found some tasteful snakes!

11/9: finally Michele decided to avoid the Pyrenees, and is roosting just besides the border. Almost certainly it will enter in Spain tomorrow passing close to San Sebastian. Instead, Egidio is a bit North of Valencia.

9/10: turn of events! Egidio is now ahead of Michele: while the father is migrating quickly and is about to enter Spain, his son is still around Toulouse. Such speed difference between age classes is not unexpected, and moreover Egidio is at his 7th autumn migration and therefore is aided by a very good experience.

5/10/2019: finally we got new data that show that Egidio (purple,track, map below) started to migrate on the 2/10. Now, he is already in Liguria. Meanwhile, Michele crossed the Alps through valle Stura di Demonte (Cuneo) and entered to France.

2/10/2019: it seems that now Michele is migrating straightly towards the North. Instead, Egidio is still in the breeding territory. Michele spent the night between Trasimeno lake and Orvieto.

28/9/2019: unexpectedly, Michele started to migrate before his father Egidio, which is still around the nest. As it is flying mainly towards the North, we suspect he has been following another adult during at least some steps (his mother or another individual already on migration). However, anything may happen in the next days.

The reproduction or citation of the contents of this website, including maps and descriptions, is forbidden without the written permission of MEDRAPTORS.


Agostini N., Baghino L., Coleiro C., Corbi F. & Premuda G. 2002. Circuitous autumn migration in the Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus). Journal of Raptor Research 36: 111-114

Mellone U., Limiñana, R., Mallìa E. & Urios V. 2011. Extremely detoured migration in an inexperienced bird: interplay of transport costs and social interactions. Journal of Avian Biology 42: 468-472

Mellone U., Lucia G., Mallìa E., Urios V., 2016. Individual variation in orientation promotes a 3000-km latitudinal change in wintering grounds in a long-distance migratory raptor. Ibis DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12401

Panuccio, M., Agostini, N. & Premuda, G. 2012. Ecological barriers promote risk minimization and social learning in migrating short-toed snake eagles. Ethology Ecology and Evolution 24: 74-80.