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Author Topic: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!  (Read 134750 times)

Cyndi Lubecke

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2010, 10:13:23 AM »
Incredible! Thanks for sharing.

frakerpovc

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2010, 10:42:24 AM »
Eric --

Great stuff, dude. Phenomenal documentation.

I think what you saw with the talons raking the rear is an actual attempt at GRABBING and taking the deer down. That sounds impossible, but I have attached a clip of a Golden Eagle being used to hunt a full grown Deer. They have also been documented lifting wild goats (I forget the species) off of cliff faces where these goats live and dropping them to their deaths.

So remember -- don't play around in your bunny suit when in Golden Eagle country...



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John Longhenry (Mesquakie8)

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2010, 12:12:15 PM »
Eric~After reading your post and seeing your pictures of this fantastic scene I got to thinking about the bird my wife and I saw on Sunday, the 14th south of Oregon.  Originally this large dark eagle was sitting in a tree above the dam so I thought I'd try and get some pictures.  By the time I got to the bridge the bird was already high up in the sky south of the golf course.  The interesting thing was that there were 3 Red-tails dogging this eagle while in the air.  I didn't think anything of it until you posted that Red-tails don't usually go after Bald Eagles.  This bird was dark, thought that it was a first year bald, but it did have white patches on the underwing and some on the tail.  Possibily the same Golden Eagle?  Not sure but now that I think of it I've never seen Red-tails going after a Bald Eagle either.  Many thanks for the post.

John Longhenry
Rockford

Ethan Gyllenhaal

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2010, 01:50:40 PM »
Wow, this is one of the best photo sequences EVER! I was at Nachusa on Sunday, but didn't have much time to look around, so I didn't ever see a Bald Eagle. Something tells me that I may have to take another trip out that way in the last days of February...

Robert

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2010, 01:56:25 PM »
What a great post Eric!  Looks like you "won the lottery" so to speak.  What are the odds to have been a witness to that event. 

Very Cool, Thanks,

Robert

Brian Tang

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2010, 04:04:02 PM »
That is an unbelievable sequence! 
Brian Tang
Plainfield/Will
hardrain.me

What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.  - Werner Heisenberg

Ron Skleney

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2010, 05:44:42 AM »
This is one of the most amazing sequence of photos I have seen and an excellent written account.  Great job Eric!

Ron

KBC

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2010, 06:13:22 AM »
Thank you for the great story and pictures,we had wondered if this was a bald but couldn't identify from a drive by.

Ken @ Rolling Thunder Prairie

Amar Ayyash

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2010, 06:55:08 AM »
Eric --

Great stuff, dude. Phenomenal documentation.

I think what you saw with the talons raking the rear is an actual attempt at GRABBING and taking the deer down. That sounds impossible, but I have attached a clip of a Golden Eagle being used to hunt a full grown Deer. They have also been documented lifting wild goats (I forget the species) off of cliff faces where these goats live and dropping them to their deaths.

So remember -- don't play around in your bunny suit when in Golden Eagle country...

Really cool video! This shows what Eric's bird could be capable of doing with a little experience.
Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.  -B. Russell
http://anythinglarus.com

Eric Lundquist

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2010, 02:53:31 PM »
Apex predator = bad ass!

Greg

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2010, 12:51:11 PM »

Superb pictures.  I've sent the link to friends who are very impressed.

Between 4 and 7 golden eagles winter around Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County Maryland along with 200 or more bald eagles.  The goldens feed on waterfowl, turkeys, fox squirrels and gray squirrels, and formerly on nutria before a successful eradication campaign.  I've seen them try to catch redtails and harriers; if both kinds of eagles are in view, hawks mob the golden eagle, not the bald.

At 8:55 am on January 20, 2008  a 1 1/2 year old subadult golden eagle dove into a group of sika deer in corn stubble , scattering them and chasing one of the smaller ones (smaller than the whitetail in your photos) into some trees.   Up again minutes later, so no kill.

Michaelh

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2010, 12:45:10 AM »
Incredible story! How often do you guys see golden's in Illinois? I had no idea they could be spotted like this.

Thanks to the OP for the great series of photos. This is wild stuff.


This is my first post here, so thanks for having me. It's a great looking forum.

Tucker

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2010, 01:57:45 PM »
Very neat!

Eric Walters

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #28 on: February 25, 2010, 12:12:37 PM »
I wanted to post a thank you to the many folks who have privately emailed me regarding the above story Ė I received so many that I wonít have the opportunity to reply back to them, but wanted to say I appreciate the compliments that have been sent to me.

Eric Walters
Zion, IL

Eric Walters

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Re: Golden Eagle attacks White-tailed Deer at Nachusa Grasslands!
« Reply #29 on: February 25, 2010, 12:13:16 PM »
Now that some time has passed, allowing for further review, I think I can make a few additional comments regarding the above experience.

I heard someone mention they didnít think the Golden Eagle (GE) was actually trying to kill this White-tailed Deer (WTD)  Iím guessing this comes from the thought of the immense size difference between the creatures.  With female WTDís running about an average of 155 lbs and a GE averaging 10-12 lbs, that would be about a 13 times weight difference.  Human males average about 170 lbs and adult male Grizzly Bears about 500 lbs, so to try and make this eagle attack more understandable from a weight difference perspective, itíd be like a human trying to take down 4.5 adult male Grizzlies!!!

My own initial thought while the attack was in progress was the GE was just trying to Ďplayí with the WTD as raptors sometimes will do, perhaps practicing their hunting techniques or causing fear in a bigger animal so that itíd cause nearby smaller animals to flush and run out in the open.  I just couldnít believe the eagle would actually try and kill a WTD!

For those who still struggle with the reality this GE was going for the kill, hereís a few additional items that might help process this situation.  In looking around for past GE attacks, I did find a 1919 Arizona report regarding a GE killing a WTD.  Even more recent is the published 1985 Arizona record of a WTD dead at a GE nest, which is even more remarkable not only that the GE killed the WTD, but that it carried it to its nest!

There are many documented examples of a GE attacking and killing smaller, but more dangerous mammals such as fox, coyotes and even wolves, so a GE would presumable be less threatened by a non-antlered WTD, even though itís relatively extremely heavy.  Thereís also internet video of GEís capturing and killing small European deer and goats.  And if one is still struggling with the thought that a GE would consider trying to kill  something about 13x heavier than it, try Ďgooglingí GE and Grizzly Bear and youíll find a video of 2 GEís chasing/diving and trying to attack a young griz (which is much heavier and far more dangerous than any female WTD)!

In addition to the above, let this Nachusa Grasslands WTD chime in.  Note in the above
photos that it sure acted as if its life was threatened.  It took off in full flight in the
opposite direction the moment it saw the eagle.  Not also that something happened to this
WTD that made it go from a full sprint down to the WTD coming to a complete stop, something it didnít have any intention of doing.  
Personally I now believe that the eagle claws, those super sharp daggers as show by Taylorís post above, must have penetrated below the WTD hide.  I ask you, if this GE just brushed the side of the deer or perhaps scrapped its skin, would the WTD have gone from a full sprint down to a complete stop Ė especially since its life was at stake?  I doubt that highly.  Thatís why I think those GE claws penetrated the WTD body, under the hide as thatís about the only thing that could make that WTD suddenly stop and try to recollect itself.  I also note the facial expression of the WTD.  While I donít want to anthropomorphize, its expression is certainly one that highlights something dramatically different has happened to make the WTD stop in its tracks against its will.

So in summary, thereís absolutely no doubt this GE had full intentions to make this WTD its Ďsuper-sizedí meal.


Lastly, the video (prior response in this post ) of a GE being released to capture the small European deer highlights one of the kill steps Iíve seen on other videos (and appears to be occurring in this photo sequence).  That is, the GE swoops down at high speeds, throws its back claws into the hindquarters of its target prey with the intention of stopping the prey item from running away.  Once it has the prey item crashed into the ground (losing its balance while running and then getting clawed in its backside flesh), the GE has the opportunity to begin using its dagger claws to slice open the softer underbelly or other non-hide locations.  Thus, I donít think the GEís intention is to kill mammal prey, at least not medium to large ones, with its first strike.  Rather itís first hit is to stop the prey, create shock and (with its 7 foot wingspan hovering over it) fear that causes the animal to stop, hesitate and or freeze.  At that point, its Ďhand-to-handí combat, with the GE holding nearly all the power with its massive and very dangerous claws vs. the hooves of a prey item.  
I think thatís what happened here with this WTD attack.  The GEís hit certainly stopped the WTD in its tracks from its former full speed sprint.  And it appears the WTD hooves might have been lifted up off the ground a few inches during the hit and the photo showing the immediate aftermath of this hit suggests the WTD hooves are in the air.  

I personally believe the GEís claws pierced through the hide and into the flesh of the WTD, causing it to stop, but not fully lose its balance.  If it had tumbled over, itís possible the GE would have gone for its soft underbelly or other vulnerable spot with its claws, but since this WTD kepts its balance, the GE only could hover over it, looking for another attack opportunity.  Meanwhile, this gave the WTD a few precious seconds to recollect itself and readjust its escape plan, which led to its life being saved.


One last unrelated commentÖ GEís have about a 7 foot wingspan.  Imagine the terror it could cause if you were a small mammal with it hovering over you!  As well, this great wingspan can be seen in another angle in the photo above with the WTD running straight at the camera.  I think I would be shocked into a few seconds of fear if a GE and its 7 foot wingspan flew right over my head!

Eric Walters
Zion, IL
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 12:28:12 PM by Eric Walters »

 

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