- Pets and Animals»
Eagles carrying off children and babies
Warning: this video is a fake
From time to time reports of unusual flying creatures surface, from unusually large birds of prey to things that appear, from the description, to be pterodactyls. Those who report these incidents tend to suffer ridicule and harassment, and some reports, normally in small local newspapers, are almost certainly hoaxes. One of the more straightforward aspects of this is the abduction of children by large eagles. While there is mainstream agreement eagles cannot carry a human child a little research indicates that there is no fundamental reason to think an eagle could not carry off a child, and nothing other than the relative rarity of the larger raptors to prevent eagles attacking children.
While there is mainstream agreement eagles cannot carry a human child a there is no fundamental reason to think an eagle could not carry off a child
New York Times May 20th 1904 (citing the London Express of May 9th) stated that an eagle swooped down and carried off an 18 month old girl playing outside her fathers cottage about a mile from Invershin station on the Highland railway line. Her body was found, mutilated, in the crags where eagles nested. The article notes that two years earlier an eagle had killed and carried off a dear but that it had been fifty years since a tragedy like this had occurred. The eagle was never found. However this case has perhaps too many circumstantial details and was not reported locally 
Biofort  describes 30 cases of avian abduction mainly in the USA, and a few from Europe. In two separate cases a (different) baldheaded eagle tried to carry off a two year old child. The first was foiled when some men working nearby tried to drive it off, but the eagle would not give up until someone shot at it. The second attempt succeeded.
In two cases an eagle tried to snatch a 9 and a10 year old child respectively. In one case the eagle had an estimated wingspan of ten feet.
Two eagles fought to the death over a 6 month old baby one had carried away.
A local taxidermist in Ouakoke valley, near Wilkesbarre, Pa stuffed a giant bald headed eagle that had been killed when trying to carry off a three year old girl.
A 70 year old woman weighing 160 pounds died after being attacked by an eagle that tried to carry her away.
A five year old child was carried 50 yards by an eagle that was unable to get more than ten feet off the ground.
Only one case involved an adult, all seem to have involved unusually large eagles and small ( that is lightweight) children. Many were foiled by nearby adults who either drove off the eagle or killed it. It is possible that the eagles mistook the children for their normal prey: in India tigers do not normally attack humans who are standing up but farm workers who are crouching down may be mistaken for deer and attacked. The workers carry a large hat on their back that holds a picture of a human face to prevent the tiger making a mistake.
Loren Coleman  notes that such reports were not uncommon in the 1920s and were also ridiculed by authorities who had not investigated the cases personally. The most recent case seems to have been in 1977 where a ten year old child was carried some 10 feet. Despite what skeptics say I would imagine some eagles could carry off a small child, for example the Philippine Eagle also known as the Monkey Eating Eagle has a wingspan of around two metres: sometimes up to 8 feet, and weighs 6 to 9 kg. Its diet includes mostly flying lemurs, some squirrels, snakes, civet cats, hornbills, and occasionally bats and monkeys.
A case that seems to be well documented and investigated,  occurred in 1932 in Norway when three year old Svanhild Hartvigsen ( her married name) was carried away by an eagle and survived, living to a ripe old age but understandably haunted by a fear of eagles.
There are some things to bear in mind  when evaluating these tales. One is a lack of precision as to names and places, which makes a report harder to verify or refute and in this case the account MUST be treated with extreme suspicion. The Scottish account given above by the New York Times is suspect not only as a secondhand citation from a LONDON paper (400 miles away) but for the lack of such details and possibly too many heart wrenching details like the feathers in the babies hand. Also there seems to be no account of the attack in any local papers.
Another point to bear in mind, they say is that the eagle may have been attacking the child, who may have come too close to the eagle's nest. Most of the reports seem to indicate the victim was nowhere near the nest.
A final point is skepticism about how much an eagle can lift and carry.
One expert commented that eagles can carry only about 5 pounds.
However the 1977 case in Lawndale Illinois involved a ten year old boy and was investigated by Loren Coleman who interviewed the mother (the author of the skeptical blog above admits he can make nothing of this case). There is also a recent case of a deer being found on a power line  and the same site shows golden eagles carrying deer long distances and attacking bears. More recently there is a video that shows a toddler being picked up by a golden Eagle and carried a few yards before the eagle dropped him (Perhaps the eagle mistook the child for a rabbit) This was presumably an average golden eagle, not the stronger Philippine Eagle or south American Condor.
The now extinct Haast's eagle , which hunted the giant flightless moa in New Zealand seems to have been incredibly strong. The possibility of a relict of Haast's eagle in the USA while unlikely cannot be ruled out, nor can the possibility of a small population of native American giant eagles with extraordinary strength. It would be worthwhile plotting the occurrence of these abduction stories to see if they defined a geographical area.
Shamanism and myth
Bob Rickard  notes a study of Japanese Shamanism, The Catalpa Bow by Carman Blacker which describes legends of children kidnapped by the tengu, mercurial beings, half hawks, half men, who haunt woods and mountain tops ( I note that in Norse myth Loki is associated with a hawk, as is Frey, and that in Egyptian mythology Horus has the head of a hawk). The tengu turn into golden eagles to carry off children who are reared inside hollow trees then returned to human society. Shamanic traditions (and some poltergeist cases) in a number of societies describe children vanishing to be found, high in a tree or an inaccessible place with no idea of where they are or how they got there. Another interesting twist is the name Svanhild, the swan being another large and potentially dangerous bird with mythological associations, though this is probably pure coincidence
Rickard also recounts another case, with links to shamanic traditions, where a child was carried off by an eagle but his body was never found. A few months later the father saw and shot the eagle and took the body home. The mother, who was pregnant, immediately went into labour from the shock of seeing the body. The child allegedly looked like an eagle and had two talents: rowing and singing.
It is worth noting also that in Arabia the Owl is a bird of ill omen, the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night (and some owls are very big).
Haast's Eagle was not the only large strong bird to ever have existed but only one is known to have coexisted with Humans, but let's go back a bit further. Argentavis magnificens  with a 23 foot wingspan may have coexisted with early hominids around 5 Million years ago but not with true humans. Aiolornis incredibilis ,a relative runt with a puny 16 foot wingspan is presumed to have gone extinct a mere 10,000 years ago well into the Neollithic. There is also the possibility pterosaurs were around at least as recently as 1944 although there is no evidence pterosaurs had feathers.
Big Birds are still observed to day, and, since new species are discovered regularly it would be arrogant to assume these reports are all baseless – survivals, or even new giant species cannot be ruled out. Such birds would be rare as their size would require a lot of food and might be bright enough to observe and avoid humans or it may simply be that they mainly occupy areas where humans do not go and occasionally stray into interactions with humans.
The prevalence of reports of birds carrying off humans, whether adults or children, suggests a deep seated unconscious fear in humans, and the brief scene in Jurassic World where a woman was carried off by a pterosaur, must have twisted many a stomach. It might be speculating too far to say that this is a cellular and cultural memory of Early Hominid experience with Argentavis (though this might have been another reason for living in caves) but given the durability of human culture, especially in ancient times, it is plausible that this fear relates to encounters with Aiolornis , especially if humans then were much smaller than now and out in the open more often.
To raise the level of speculation consider the ROC in the tales of Sinbad the Sailor that could carry off an elephant in its claws and, from Jewish Mythology, the Ziv or Ziz, king of the birds so large that when a ships crew saw it from a distance standing up to its ankles in the sea they were about to get out when they heard a voice say “Do not jump in! Once a carpenter dropped his axe overboard at this spot and it did not reach the bottom for seven years! This bird is the Ziz, and you will never see its like elsewhere!’” Could these be ancestral memories inflating the size of a real giant bird?
And to take the speculation meter off scale  Odin (Illinois) residents John and Wanda Chappell saw a giant bird land in a tree near their home. They described it as gray-black with an estimated wingspan of 12 feet. Mr. Chappell said it looked like a “prehistoric” bird and he figured it could have carried off his small daughter if it got the chance. The twist here is that Odin is the name of the chief Norse god in Medieval Scandinavia and his animal was the Raven, also an incarnation of Trickster. It would not be unreasonable to assume that as chief god he had giant ravens to accompany him.
But these speculations should not be taken too seriously. It would be easy to free associate on the Odin-Raven-Roc-Ziz Quartet and great fun but perhaps for relatively little gain.
I cannot resist one further speculation however. In 1985 residents of the London suburb of Brentford reported a flying object they identified as a griffin crossing the sky  and it is possible this was another Anomalous Big Bird that decided to migrate from somewhere to somewhere. The Brentford Griffin case, like the Charles Walton Killing  will never be resolved and the Brentford Griffin can only be regarded as a weak piece of evidence when studying Anomalous Big Birds.
This note has almost exclusively been concerned with eagles carrying off children but other birds of prey have poked their beaks in. While individual reports of birds carrying off children should be treated with suspicion, especially older reports, there is nothing inherently improbable in an eagle carrying off a child up to around ten years old. In one case there is an interesting link to shamanic traditions, and while the idea of an eagle carrying someone, or their spirit, off may be an archetype, the archetype may have had a basis in reality and be an expression of ancient memories, just as the young of certain species of bird instinctively cower when they see the shadow of a paper cut out of a hawk.
But that is speculation that needs to be fleshed out or refuted.
- Strange History
- Loren Coleman
- Deer on power line
- Haast's Eagle
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentavis Argentavis Argentavis Magnificens
http://planetsave.com/2013/06/28/argentavis-magnificens-largest-flying-bird-ever-giant-teratorn-facts-extinction-wingspan-etc/Argentavis Magnificens — Largest Flying Bird Ever, Giant Teratorn Facts, Extinction, Wingspan, Etc
9. http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Brentford-Griffin-and-the-West-London-Dragon The Brentford Griffin
10. http://hubpages.com/politics/Was-Charles-Waltons-Murder-a-witchcraft-killing The Charles Walton Murder
1.http://www.dvrconline.org/phileagle.html The Philippine Eagle
12.This link seems to have vannished
13. Maryland register April 01 1909. (The Valley Register attributed this to an unnamed newspaper in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) reported in FT 51 p.39 Desperate fight with monster bird that menaced a baby St Charles, Illinois (paraphrased) Farmer Robert Johnson and neighbours fought a monster eagle trying to snatch his baby for two hours. It says they eventually captured it
see also the video at the top of this page