It’s a large bird of prey with a wingspan that ca reach 180 centimeters. It has a very light colouration in the lower part with the darker tones of the head.

In Italy the species is migratory and nesting. The short-toed eagle migrates to and from wintering areas (in sub-saharan Africa) from mid February to April and from late August to October.

It has been shown that the short-toed eagle that nest in italy go up to peninsula to reach Gibraltar, passing along the coasts of France and Spain; few individuals head towards the Strait of Sicily. The species carry out a “circuit” migration, as it follows a repetititive path (towards south-east in spring and north-west in autumn) in contrast to the normal migratory attitudes of the birds of prey. This route that forces the short-toed eagle to lengthen the migration of hundreds of km, is due to the size and shape of their wings. In the beaten flight these produce greater aerodynamic resistance and therefore require a greater energy cost, compared to what happens in birds of prey with narrow and enlongated wings. The short-toed eagle mainly uses the gliding flight, exploiting the thermal updrafts that form on the mainland and not at sea; it therefore  tends to avoid crossing large sea surface. This strategy, typical of large flying birds, helps to minimize energy expenditure during migration.

Territorial behaviours manifest immediately after the arrival in the nesting territories. The short-toed eagle nests in broad-leaved and coniferous woods with low anthropic disturbance. It builds the nest every year which is always in a dominant position.

This raptor hunts in open zones with shrubs, cultivations, prairies and pastures where it finds its preys essentially formed by snakes. During the hunting it keeps the head low and he legs extended; once sighted the prey falls on it, even from 400 m of height, stopping its body and head. Often it can be observed while facing the ground to snake with the open wings.

The species is considered to have an unfavourable status and classified as “vurnerable” in the Red List of breeding birds in Italy, as is inserted in Annex I of the Birds Directive (79/409/CEE). Short-toed eagle suffers from the reduction of hunting habitats which is a consequence of the changes of agricultural and pastoral practices. To this are added the forest cuts, the electrocution on power lines, the illegal kill with firearms and the use of poisoned bites.