can a bird carry a deer

A homeowner in northeastern Wisconsin who likes to sit on her patio in the early mornings got quite a surprise one morning when she saw an unexpected sight.

Julie Smith was delighted to see a fawn swimming in Lake Noquebay. She got out her phone to record the event when she caught something relatively unexpected on camera instead—a bald eagle swooping down to grab a tasty meal.

“I see amazing things when I get up in the morning, and I thought I would show this to my grandkids to show them what they miss when they sleep late in the morning,” Smith says. Although at first she thought shed be showing them a cute fawn video, not a rare bald eagle attack.

On the video, the fawn can be heard calling out as the eagle eventually wins the battle and drags the lifeless deer onto land. Smith notes that the bald eagle went straight for the heart when it started feeding on its prize. (See rare video of an ocelot catching a macaw.)

It may look shocking, but is this behavior unusual? Experts have weighed in, and they say not really.

Bald eagles are opportunistic hunters, says Steve Hein, the director of the Center for Wildlife Education at Georgia Southern University. “Bald eagles go after waterfowl, fish, and other small mammals. As apex predators, they will do whatever they need to do to survive,” he says.

Kevin McGowan, an ornithologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says this deer was swimming right where bald eagles like to hunt. “They typically catch fish that are right at the surface,” he says. “They are constantly looking for things swimming near the surface of the water.”

Bald eagles hunt fish in lakes all of the time and it doesn’t garner as much attention from people, but eagles will take down almost any sort of prey they want. Birds of prey like falcons and eagles have been known to take down full-sized deer in some parts of the world.

Smith says a female deer that she assumes was the fawn’s mother came back to look for it. The eagle, on the other hand, came back in the following days to feast on its kill—they commonly will scavenge their own kills and other carcasses.

While bald eagles don’t typically feed on fawns, it is mostly due to the fact they are hidden away in the woods. This fawn put itself in the open by swimming, which is somewhat unusual. Smith says her husband heard from a neighbor a similar attack occured in their backyard, perhaps by the same eagle.

Even though it may look shocking, says Jason Ward at the Atlanta Audubon Society, eagles need to eat. “Many birds of prey fail to live past their first birthday and die of starvation. Every meal is a special one.”

Ward also mentions that as alarming as it was to witness, he is glad the person filming the video did not intervene. “People need to remember that native birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and its a federal crime to harass one.”

The main reason bald eagles don’t usually eat fawns is because they are concealed in the woods. This fawn, in an unusual move, came out into the open by swimming. Smith claims her spouse was informed by a neighbor that their backyard was the scene of a comparable attack, possibly by the same eagle.

When Julie Smith spotted a fawn swimming in Lake Noquebay, she was thrilled. She pulled out her phone to record the incident, but what she captured on camera was something rather unexpected: a bald eagle swooping down to grab a tasty meal.

Experts have weighed in, and while this behavior may appear shocking, they don’t really think so.

Smith reports that a female deer returned in search of the fawn, whom she believes to be its mother. However, the eagle returned in the days that followed to feast on its kill; scavengers often gather carcasses, including their own kills.

Ward adds that despite how unsettling it was to see, he is relieved that the person recording the video did not step in. “People must keep in mind that harassing native birds is a federal offense and that they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.” ”.

In Mongolia, there have been reports of golden eagles killing sizable prey, but these birds are not behaving naturally; rather, their handlers have trained and directed them to attack. Still, watching Mongolian golden eagles hunt is breathtaking.

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 s 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 s show, was over in mere two seconds.

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.

Kerley witnessed the attack, which was caught on camera in three seconds, just as the deer seemed to be a little unaware that winged fury had arrived:

In addition to being awesome, the behavior seen on the camera trap is incredibly uncommon for Golden Eagles in the wild.


Can a bird take down a deer?

Bald eagles hunt fish in lakes all of the time and it doesn’t garner as much attention from people, but eagles will take down almost any sort of prey they want. Birds of prey like falcons and eagles have been known to take down full-sized deer in some parts of the world.

Can a bird pick up a baby deer?

It would work with a small example of a newborn deer… but not maybe not a big one. Yes, a Bald Eagle could pick up a small new born deer. A new born deer weighs on average between 4 and 8 pounds. An adult Bald Eagle can pick up around 5 to 6 pounds, but it’s not going far with that much weight.

Has a bird ever picked up a child?

Eagles have tried to carry off children before, though it was much more of a problem 100 years ago. One eagle tried to carry off a Scottish baby, and another a child in Maine. In Milwaukee, an eagle snatched a two-month-old child from its cradle and flew back to its nest.

Can eagles take down a deer?

Golden eagles typically prey upon small- and medium-sized animals, such as geese, rabbits and reptiles. But its occasional attacks on bigger animals—lambs, deer and even juvenile brown bears—led ranchers in the United States to believe that the bird was depleting their livestock.