A Wild Golden Eagle Can Take Down a Deer Just As Well As a Trained One | Smart News | Smithsonian
Current Issue
November 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Keeping you current

A Wild Golden Eagle Can Take Down a Deer Just As Well As a Trained One

Besides being cool images, the behavior captured on the camera trap is extremely rare for Golden Eagles in nature

smithsonian.com

While checking a camera trap in the Siberian wilderness, zoologist Linda Kerley noticed a sika deer carcass laying nearby. It was an odd scene. She was aiming to capture tigers on the hidden camera, but there were no tracks nearby. And it appeared as if the deer had “been running and then just stopped and died,” she said, in a statement. When she retrieved the images captured by the camera, however, the full story was clear. A golden eagle had swooped down and taken the unsuspecting deer out. That attack, the images show, was over in mere two seconds.

Kerley saw the moment of attack, captured in three images, when the deer appears to have not yet completely realized that winged fury has arrived:

And the final time-series image:

The behavior Kerley’s camera captured is extremely rare. Golden eagles normally prey on rabbits, not large predators like deer, and in Kerley’s 18 years working in the region, this is the first time she’s seen anything like this attack. Although this behavior in eagles is not completely unheard of (researchers have published on eagles taking out bear cubs and coyote, for example), the incident was stand-out enough to warrant its own scientific paper.

There are cases of golden eagles taking down large prey in Mongolia, but those animals aren’t acting of their own accord—they’re trained and instructed to attack by their handlers. Nevertheless, Mongolian golden eagles on the hunt are a sight to behold.

Here’s eagle versus wolf and fox:

And, in honor of the slain sika deer, eagle versus deer:

More from Smithsonian.com:

Mongol Hunting Eagle  
Bald Eagles Reveal Complexities in Saving Wildlife 

Tags

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus