Nature can show many different sides. When witnessing a golden eagle descend upon a Sika deer with vicious intent, sinking its sharp talons into its hind, only then do you appreciate how nice it is not to have to worry about your own position within the food chain. The savage attack, although highly ambitious, demonstrates an incredibly rare scene.
The photographic images were taken by a group of zoologists in a nature reserve in the southeast of Russia. The breathtaking findings were later published in the latest issue of the Journal of Raptor Research.
Golden eagles are one of the most renowned birds of prey, principally inhabiting the Northern Hemisphere. The dark brown birds are often spotted with a light brown/golden plumage around their napes.
The birds are known to target a myriad of different prey, typically hares, marmots and squirrels. They deploy their speed, agility and razor-sharp talons to overcome their victims with ruthless efficiency. With an enormous eight foot wingspan, and capable of reaching speeds of over 100 mph, the golden eagle is truly a fierce adversary.
Although small prey are preferred, it is not unheard of for the ambitious beasts to target much larger creatures. Golden eagles have been observed taking on coyotes, cubs of American Black bears, Brown Bears, seals, fish and fellow birds. Ultimately, however, these eagles are opportunistic in nature and will hone in on any number of vulnerable targets; Thus far, Golden Eagles have been known to attack hundreds of different species of vertebrates.
However, the latest photographs are a first. Golden eagles have never been seen attempting to fell Sika deer. Therefore, this represents the first evidence of such an attack.
As with many great discoveries, the moment was captured quite inadvertently. The zoologists were operating in the isolated region of Lazovsky, situated on the slopes of the Sikhote-Alin mountains, during 2011, where they were hoping to investigate the dwindling population of Siberian tigers.
Linda Kerley, working for the Zoological Society of London, describes the exciting moment she stumbled across the scene of the attack. Kerley was walking towards the camera setup, as part of a routine trip to replace the battery and memory card, when she encountered the deer corpse. According to Fox News, she describes how the situation did not stack up:
“There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died.”
It wasn’t until Kerley made a return journey to the group’s camp that she discovered the amazing images, which explained the absence of tracks in the snowy region.
Kerley’s Colleague, Johnathan Slaght, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, reiterated the significance of the pair’s findings, highlighting how an element of luck factored into the equation.
The ambitious deer attack lasted for a mere two seconds, but represents an incredibly impressive spectacle of nature. The golden eagle’s hunting prowess means it remains king of the skies.
Update: A previous video was removed, as it was felt that the video did not relate closely enough to the article headline. Apologies to those readers who felt inconvenienced.
By: James Fenner