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The big 5 of the Stelvio National Park

These are the 5 most iconic animals of the Stelvio National Park that you might come across during a hike. Find out how to recognise them and distinguish them from other species

The Ibex

A large goat with impressive ridged horns.

In the winter, don’t expect to find them at low altitudes frolicking in the snow, rather look for them climbing up a rocky mountainside or on sunny crests. Alternatively they are easy to spot at the Bagni Vecchi, where for some years now a group of the species has established itself.

Il camoscio

Graceful and agile

This hooved animal is best at moving around on the snow thanks to a membrane between its hooves that basically acts as a mini snowshoe. It is easy to spot in the winter as:

  • In the forest it descends to low altitudes
  • It has a very dark coat that contrasts with the snow
  • It whistles!

The red deer

The king of the forest is instantly recognisable thanks to his crown of antlers.

There is a period however when male deer lose their horns, usually from the end of winter to May, when it might not be so easy to distinguish the males from the females, or even red deer from roe deer. 

In this case look at their size. The male is notably larger than the female, which are also somewhat larger than roe deer.

The bearded vulture

The largest bird to nest in these valleys
Its wingspan can reach up to 3m in length, around a metre longer than the arm span of a man.

Given that estimating the actual dimensions of a bird in flight is not easy, one of the features that helps you distinguish a bearded vulture (known in Italian as ‘gipeto’) is the shape of its tail. If it is wedge shaped you’ve probably spotted a gipeto! The adult can be distinguished from the eagle by the colour of its body, which is a light shade of rust rather than dark brown. It also beats its wings very little in flight.

The golden eagle

The golden eagle also beats its wings very little in flight.

Unlike the bearded vulture however, its tail is broader and rounder. With the eagle it is easy to distinguish the young from the adults: The former have large white splotches on both wings and the tail. They are very visible and easy to spot even from afar. The size of the splotches shrinks as they grow until they become adults, when they disappear altogether.

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