Can Birds Steal Babies?

Dec 20 2012 @ 3:38pm

This video of an eagle picking up and dropping a young child, which made the rounds yesterday, is fake:

But there are historical accounts of large birds going after children. Forrest Wickman is skeptical:

Even the largest North American birds—such as the bald eagle, the golden eagle, and the great horned owl—don’t commonly attack humans, and can’t lift much more than a few pounds. (When large birds are shown attacking wolves and knocking goats off of cliffs in videos, they’re moving or dragging the animals, not lifting them.) Moreover, when these birds swoop in to attack larger prey, they usually kill the animal on the spot, often by crushing it with their claws, and might eat it right there. This is because flying away with a large animal that’s struggling to get free is usually too much of a risk.

Dan Nosowitz points out that an eagle that went extinct in the 1400s could have definitely handled the job:

The golden eagle, which is very common, has been known to hunt wolves and deer. It is a fearsome and formidable hunter. And it was about half the weight of a Haast's eagle, and nowhere near as powerful. The golden eagle hunts deer? Pretty impressive. The Haast's eagle hunted 12-foot-tall monster birds, striking at estimated speeds of 50 mph with the force of a cinder block dropped from an eight-story building. It didn't carry off prey, like that likely-fake Montreal golden eagle, but instead used its talons—the same size as a tiger's claws—to kill on the ground. One talon would grab the monster bird by the pelvis, and the other would deliver a crushing blow to the neck and head. The Haast's eagle's genus name is Harpagornis—a combination of Greek words meaning "grappling hook" and "bird." Yeah.