Yet again, poor little deer gets killed by big nasty eagle

I just saw the above on Stephen Bodio's Querencia, where it was posted by Matt Mullenix, and just had to steal it (sorry).

Long-time readers will know that mammal-killing eagles have been a Tet Zoo mainstay since the very beginning (and then here and here, with Haast's eagle here). I'm on lunch right now, and after scoffing down a bowl of noodles am comparing limb : body depth ratios in assorted carnivorans. Let's just say that it's relevant to a certain grey shaggy beast photographed on Dartmoor...

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A few weeks ago a friend showed me photos on his phone of a bald eagle dragging a seal pup onto the shore and gutting it. It grabbed the animal in the water and used it's wings to pull towards the beach, it never lifted the animal out of the water directly. Best guess was the seal pup weighed about 10 or 15 kilos.

By CanuckRob (not verified) on 07 Aug 2007 #permalink

Lots more comment on the circumstances now up at Q blog-- Matt, who is more computer- literate than I, had just put the You- tube up when you looked, and I hadn't added more info.

The roe did run. No deer can outrun an eagle.

I have always wondered why at least some species of meat-eating birds didn't hunt in packs, you'd think it would be easy for them to harry and bring down deer sized critters.

Am I wrong? Are there any pack hunters among the birds?

By Noni Mausa (not verified) on 07 Aug 2007 #permalink

Actually, I believe it's Harris' Hawks, do hunt cooperatively, similar to wolf pack hunting techniques. They take turns flushing prey and running it down, then share in the kill.

Harris hawks Parabuteo unicinctus. I once watched a documentary tht showed some flushing out a jackrabbit. It'd transport you back to the cretaceous...

As to the original subject: nice video, but they do it differently in Kazakhstan.

[from Darren: I know]

The Harris Hawk of the US Mid-West hunts in pairs or (I believe) family parties. The smaller male usually drives larger quarry such as jackrabbits (Lepus sp) for the larger female to catch. Harris Hawks are popular with falconers as it is possible to fly more than one at the same time, which you cannot do with solitary hunters like Peregrine Falcons

Hooray! Some gore!

I met a (lone) Harris hawk at the Bushmoot last weekend, they are very hansome birds.

I was surprised at her docility when surrounded by kids/dogs/ferrets. Most falcons I have seen would not be so tolerant of so much disturbance.

"I know"

Then I must beg your pardon, and learn to read more. Especially since I've just noticed all those links in the original entry...

My last comment also seems a bit... terse. Not my intention. Sorry about that. I'll shut up now.

By Warren B. (not verified) on 08 Aug 2007 #permalink

Harris Hawks are popular with falconers as it is possible to fly more than one at the same time, which you cannot do with solitary hunters like Peregrine Falcons
Although it's rarely done anymore, for several centuries it was common to fly pairs, or "casts" of Peregrines on large quarry like herons and cranes. For a single season I flew a cast of Cooper's Hawks with moderate success. Many times I've watched mated pairs of wild Golden Eagles hunt cooperatively. Still, Harris' Hawks are the most social large raptor I know of.

I recall seeing pictures of a Harris X Ferruginous hybrid once; the monstrous conception of a breeder in the UK.

Harris Hawks are indeed social, but they are rather modestly sized hawks by the standards of modern falconry. Aside from their social behavior, they are rather like buteoine hawks, albeit with somewhat larger tails, and thus lack the agility, speed and downright meanness of accipiterine hawks.

I'm frankly surprised that the Harris X Ferruginous was viable at all, but I can see what the breeder was thinking. A bird with the ferruginous' size and the harris' smarts would be a formidable slayer of jackrabbits.

I was privy to a hunting demonstration of Harris' hawks a couple of years ago. They picked someone from the crowd, for their supposed athleticism. The demonstrator tied a cord and a lure to his leg and told him to run as fast as he could. Before he made if half way across the field, two hawks had swooped in and dove for his head (startling him into stopping) while the third bird attacked and made off with the lure. While I'm sure it wasn't their "natural" hunting technique, it was still interesting to see.

I have always wondered why at least some species of meat-eating birds didn't hunt in packs, you'd think it would be easy for them to harry and bring down deer sized critters.

Sure, but they couldn't defend such a carcass against a pack of wolves. I suppose the presence of big terrestrial predators is why birds of prey usually limit themselves to prey they can fly away with -- the poo'akai on mammal-free New Zealand having been the exception that proves the rule.

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 12 Aug 2007 #permalink

This is, naturally, young Golden Eagle.

Captive eagles can be trained to attack prey much bigger than they can handle. In ancient times, eagles were taught to attack escaped slaves, too.

In eagle-deer a confrontation, eagle (assuming it is dumb enough to attack) has high risk of injury; and deer has high probability of escaping, probably with bruises or wounds.

BTW, I think this video speaks rather badly of falconer. He both puts animal he owns (eagle) at high risk of injury, and doesn't care that game (deer) is hunted with minimum suffering.

Geez, poor eagle rolls three times. This falconer was a total i*iot.

And last: Why not Harris hawk: too big (compare to falconer), wrong shape (huge wings, comparatively small head), uniform blackish-brown upperparts (lack Harris's rufous wing-coverts)

Cooperative hunting in birds is not so unusual, many small birds (mostly, but not only Passerines) hunt cooperatively in mixed species flocks. This is particularly common in tropical forest environments, but also occurs in temperate woodland - I have spent many happy hours watching mixed tit-flocks, various combinations of great tits, blue tits, coal tits, long-tailed tits and often some warblers and/or 'kinglets' (in the UK that's usually goldcrest, but I have also seen firecrest in such mixed flocks).

I have seen tv footage of kookaburras hunting as a small group (I think it was a family group), and other kingfishers operating as pairs. Egrets also seem to fish collectively on occasion, or at least it looks like they are fishing in a manner that is cooperative rather than just being close together.

By Mark Lees (not verified) on 13 Aug 2007 #permalink