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The eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is expanding on the northern Apennines and some pairs are known and known, but in different areas it is not clear today whether the queen of the sky is present or not.
For many years eagles have been searched for in the upper Taro valley without however being able to ascertain the presence of a stable pair or nesting.

The territory of the upper Taro valley in the Parma Apennines, in addition to having a complex orography, has relatively few sites suitable for the nesting of this majestic bird of prey, but the numerous sightings of eagles, often in pairs, had in the past years during our activities of monitoring encouraged us and made us hopeful about the possible presence of a couple: so from the beginning of this year we have decided to do things seriously.

Since January we have thus started an intense observation activity with many outings at the same time, or many people in different positions, on average one every 2/3 km as the crow flies, to be able to spot the eagles and follow their flights.
Surely the orography of the area did not help us in the observations, as well as our little experience on the subject.
The truth is that it is not at all easy to spot eagles and it is easier, once hooked with binoculars, to quickly lose sight of them because they disappear behind a ridge or because they fly so low that they become confused with the vegetation, or it may happen that a few see them. meters, suddenly, hearing their call without having seen them arrive.
We know that it seems impossible to struggle to see birds that have over two meters of wingspan, but we assure you that it happens often, and perhaps this is also what makes them so fascinating.

In the photo: adults observed between January and February

Thanks to the many field trips, simultaneous and solitary observations and the precious contribution of Professor Ubaldo Ricci and the GAAS (Northern Apennine Eagles group) regarding the behavior of individuals and the territorial boundaries of the other couples known in Liguria, we have begun to reconstruct and understand that the eagles observed in these months of research are a territorial couple of the upper Taro valley.
For us this was a great victory, which was lacking perhaps the most important thing and the one we most hoped for, that is, that the couple had nested.

Pictured: adult

The period of the lockdown has put a spoke in the wheel because it coincided precisely with the period of the preparation of the nests and of the hatching.
We therefore focused on summer observations, hoping to be able to spot the eagles with a prey transport that would have confirmed the presence of a nest with an eagle to feed, but despite several attempts where we saw the couple, we unfortunately never saw the one in we were hoping for: a possible nesting site.
The possible ones, given that eagles prefer rocky walls at lower altitudes than their hunting territories, we have really observed them in all ways and from every angle, but never found anything.

In the photo: an adult observed in late June

Thinking a lot, we hypothesized that perhaps this pair does not nest on a rocky wall but on a tree (other cases are known in the Apennines) and that it was possible that this was the reason why we never managed to find the nest, concentrated as we were to check all areas of rocks present.
In July the confirmation that our suspicions were well founded: during a transect for the monitoring of the wolf we found a nest on a fir tree.
An immense nest of over two meters in diameter, certainly not used for some time, but it was proof that the pair of eagles from the upper Taro valley know how to nest on trees.

In the photo: the nest on a tree no longer used

Between mid-July and late July the eagles are ready to leave the nest and fly away, and this was our other chance, the last we had to see the young of the year fly together with the adults (easily identifiable by the large white spots present on the wings and tail) and ensure the reproduction of the pair.
And finally, when perhaps we no longer believed it, given that for the whole month of August the attempts to spot the young man had failed, on 27 September, we had the confirmation and the certainty that "our" pair of eagles has completed successfully nesting!
We were able to observe the young eagle together with a parent fly over the heart of their territory for several minutes.
Good luck young golden eagle of the upper val Taro!

In the photo adult observed together with the young

Photo above and below: the young man of the year
 All photos: Daniele Ecotti

Special thanks to: Simone Giosso, Ludovica Barbieri, Cristiana Scolaro, Maria Chiara Valenti, Carlo Raineri, Andrea Leva, Alessandro Barbieri, active volunteers of I am not afraid of the wolf who participated in the contemporaries, to Guido Sardella, founding partner and ornithologist with whom we research strategies and carried out many field trips. Thanks to Alberto Testaquadra and Emanuele Fior for participating in some contemporaries to Franco Roscelli for participating in the contemporaries and for all the reports made, and finally thanks again to GAAS (Northern Apennine Aquile Group), in particular to Professor Ubaldo Ricci, for the collaboration and exchange of information regarding the behavior of individuals and the territorial boundaries of other known couples, a relationship that I am not afraid of the wolf hopes to intensify in the coming years.

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