Raptor capable of preying on humans ?

How big would an avian predator need to be to easily kill a human?

(I am assuming that the biggest extant raptor – some type of eagle, I forget which species is the biggest – couldn’t do the job easily. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.)

According to Wiki, Haast’s Eagle was the largest raptor that ever lived, weighing between 20 and 30 pounds and built powerfuly enough to prey on moas, the large flightless birds that used to live in New Zealand. So it certainly looks like they could have attacked and killed humans.

The heaviest and most powerful extant raptor is the Harpy Eagle. They can kill prey up to the size of young deer. One would certainly be a threat to a small child; however it would be unlikely to be able kill an adult without a lucky hit.

For infants, a golden eagle’s big enough to kill and eat young fawns, and bald eagles are (or can get) even larger. That’s already bigger than a human newborn.

For a severely incapacitated person pretty much all bets are off. It just needs to be able to see such a person as a food source.

I had a vague memory of this image and story in my mind when I first started the thread:


Is this legitimate, or a hoax? I find it a bit perplexing – a bird capable of actually carrying off a five-year-old? Disturbing, isn’t it?

Here’s a set of photos showing a golden eagle attacking (but not killing) a white tail deer. They certainly don’t see size as that much of a barrier when it comes to potential prey, as the deer is noticeably larger than the eagle, and if they can outpace a deer in a straight line human sprinters don’t have much of a chance.

That said, even the deer was smart enough to adapt its tactics to take advantage of the fact golden eagles apparently don’t corner very well. A human would be able to pick up a stick and go on the offensive, which would defeat the eagle in rather short order.

There are occasional incidents of raptors attacking rock climbers. In most cases it’s because the climber inadvertently got too close to a nest, but there are some cases where it might have been attempted predation-- eagles can take down a full grown mountain goat (which may weigh up to 300 lbs) by pulling them off steep rock faces. There’s no reason why the same couldn’t happen to some unfortunate free climber.

It’s not possible that an eagle could actually lift her and carry her off. According to this the maximum weight a Golden Eagle can typically carry is only 2 kilos, or about 4.4 pounds. Given that a small five year old girl will weigh about 30 pounds, this is way more than an eagle could raise into the air.

However, in a previous thread someone linked to a video in which an eagle attacked a goat, knocking it off a cliff and then gliding with it some distance as it fell. It’s conceivable that something like this could have happened. As the article says, the eagle did not carry her up to its nest. Apparently she was on a very steep slope or precipice, possibly allowing the eagle to glide with her while descending until it dropped her where she was found.

I had a vague memory of this behemoth’s fossilized remains getting reported about in the late 1970s:

If Argentavis was a predator and not a scavenger, do you think it would be capable ofcarrying a child while in flight?

I’ve heard speculation in the past that they may have done so. Apparently, they hunted by swooping down at high speed and striking moa in the head with their fisted talons, breaking their neck. Something that might work on humans as well, and humans being tall thin bipeds just like moa, that could have triggered their hunting instinct.

Supposing two eagles carried her together?

I’m reminded of the S.M. Stirling novel The Sky People set on a Burroughs-like alternate Venus. A colonist explains to some new arrivals from Earth that due to the presence of large pterosaurs, children aren’t allowed to play under the open sky without an armed guard.

30 pounds is still well above 8.8 pounds. And do eagles ever cooperate like that?

African or European eagles?

I’ve never heard of the mythical American Thunderbird, yet this ‘strange mysteries’ site appears reluctant to show it’s mystery: that’s the smallest computer font I’ve seen, grey on midnight black…
One of the most controversial eye witness reports of the Thunderbird’s ability to lift a human off the ground comes from Lawndale, Illinois. On July 25th, 1977, around 9 pm a group of three boys where playing in a friends backyard when they looked up to see two large birds soaring above. As the birds came closer they became aggressive and attacked the boys, two of which managed to escape, however the third boy, Marlon Lowe, did not. One of the birds clamped onto Marlon’s shoulder with its claws and proceed to lift the young boy from the ground for an estimated distance of about 30 yards. The young boy’s cries for help attracted the attention of the near by neighbors who rushed to his aid, combined with their help and the boy beating the bird as hard as he could, Marlon was finally released. Although viewed by some as a tale tail, the description given by witnesses of the attaching birds describe a large black bird, with a white ring around its neck and a wingspan of about 10 feet, traits that match the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) almost exactly.

very misleading topic title

I have never heard of eagles jointly carrying prey; I think it would be very difficult to fly that way.

Whoosh. :slight_smile:

It could grip her by her hair.
(it’s not a question of where it grips her…it’s a simple question of weight ratio).

P.S. Is it OK to whoosh a moderator? :slight_smile:

I recognized the Monty Python reference. Given that others might not, I chose to answer it straight.

So you can consider yourself whooshed. :stuck_out_tongue:

Ar? :confused:

The title is exactly what the OP is asking.