In tooth and claw: eagles vs…goats?

It happens. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but in this video, golden eagles are shown cajoling and even carrying kids (i.e., young goats) off mountainsides. Warning: Some of this content is disturbing.
Eagles are at the top of anyone’s concept of a food chain, but this one seems to involve some zig-zags. I’ve seen them knock other birds of prey out of a clean blue sky but had no idea they would go after quadrupeds. Note that the adult goats successfully chase off the eagles’ salvos, but that the eagles really don’t seem to care beyond basic safety concerns. I guess hunger creates some serious imperatives.

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  1. #1 by The Science Pundit on February 18, 2009 - 12:05 pm

    I thought that the melodramatic music was a little too loud. Also, is it just me or did the billy goat screams and thumps hitting the ground seem obviously dubbed in?
    That was totally cool to watch though. I like the way the announcer ended the segment by pointing out that eagles do this because they need to feed their young, and that we humans do the exact same thing.

  2. #2 by Ashok Khosla on February 18, 2009 - 1:54 pm

    I was blown away the first time I saw this. Then I found out later that it’s totally staged and fake. :-(
    http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2008/04/eagle_footage_faked.php

  3. #3 by Ellen on February 18, 2009 - 2:14 pm

    Cajole is probably not the word you were thinking of.
    1 a: to persuade with flattery or gentle urging especially in the face of reluctance : coax b: to obtain from someone by gentle persuasion 2: to deceive with soothing words or false promises

  4. #4 by Greg Laden on February 18, 2009 - 8:12 pm

    Oh, this is known behavior. They also do this with deer. There is a famous passage from one of the Craighead’s books that chronicles their sithing of a golden eagle taking a fawn, similar to some of the stuff you see here.
    The gold eagle is under studied.

  5. #5 by Greg Laden on February 18, 2009 - 8:18 pm

    Of course, that fake video totally fake. We may have a situaton here where there is a belief (eagles eat stolen fish) being falsified (golden eagles eat larger animals than most people realize) being adulturated by the fake video seenhere at 5:15 and in shorter form in the video to which Askok points which makes us think that the original belief (eagles eat stolen fish) is correct.
    But really, golden eagles eat big things now and then. Seriously.

  6. #6 by Frasque on February 18, 2009 - 8:45 pm

    Well, it was staged, but it wasn’t faked – the eagle was trained, and a handy cut jumped us from attacking an obviously live goat kid to carrying off (or trying to) an obviously dead one. I doubt the eagle is capable of doing that, but it certainly can knock a goat off a ledge – you can see how it grabbed and the released the carcass, but didn’t actually fly with it.
    However, this was (and is) fairly common practise for nature filmmakers and photographers to stage behaviors for the camera.
    If you search youtube, there are some great films of trained eagles attacking wolves (they don’t carry them off, though).

  7. #7 by Crudely Wrott on February 19, 2009 - 12:04 am

    Said the eagle:
    “Because I can.”

  8. #8 by FastLane on February 19, 2009 - 7:48 pm

    I thought it was fairly well known that golden eagles have been used for along time to hunt large prey, up to and including other perdators like wolves.
    I don’t know if there are any confirmed cases of that happening in the wild, but search gold eagle hunt on youtube and you can find lots of examples.

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