When eagles go bad, one more time... part II
Image again courtesy of Steve Bodio: for more see his post on wolf-killing eagles in Kazakhstan.
Some authors state that the eagle’s job was not to kill the wolf, but to hold it down until its trainer was able to arrive (on horseback) and dispatch the wolf with a knife. However, as is illustrated by the fact that Golden eagles can kill mammals bigger and heavier than wolves by a powerful strike directed at the back of the skull (go here), a trained eagle would in fact be able to kill even an adult wolf if it approached quickly enough and struck the wolf, from behind, in the right place. Accordingly, other authors state that the berkut’s role was to kill – rather than just pin down – the wolf. Wikipedia’s entry on this subject states that ‘These eagles are so fast and powerful that they are capable of killing a fully grown wolf by diving at speed and striking the wolf on the back of the head or neck’.
Some wolves proved particularly challenging quarry, however, and there is the tale of one that foiled the attempts of 11 eagles – killing each one – until it was finally dispatched thanks to the efforts of a twelfth eagle. Love (1989) intimated that wolf-hunting with eagles is all but extinct in modern times but, as you can see from Steve’s blog post alluded to above, and from his 2003 book Eagle Dreams: Searching for Legends in Wild Mongolia, this is certainly not true.
Oh, and while I’m here: check out the recent discovery of a female Golden eagle from Buffalo Valley, Wyoming (NOT New York as I said previously!), captured by Bryan Bedrosian and colleagues, that apparently weighed at least 7.7 kg. This wouldn’t be the biggest Golden eagle ever - that record goes to a 9 kg Spanish female (though I don’t know if this size was ever authenticated and must find out) - but it would be a record for North America.
To those who check the blog regularly, you’ll note that this post has just been updated. I should note that I add updates, where relevant, to various of the posts. For other recent examples see ‘Time wandering’ cynodonts and The first new mammal in 100 years?.
Ref - -
Love, J. A. 1989. Eagles. Whittet Books,