Talk about power: As this remarkable footage shows, this golden eagle took down a full-grown red fox, then fought raging winds to take off into the skies with its full carcass in her talons.
Firstly, you’re not crazy. Even as the largest bird of prey in North America, a golden eagle’s mass is still typically less than a red fox’s. Most full-grown red foxes will weigh around 10-20 pounds and boast a larger silhouette than eagles, with some adults even weighing 30+ pounds. Adult golden eagles, however, typically weigh anywhere from 6-10 pounds (males) to 8-15 (females). which makes this golden’s feat of gravity-defying strength all the more impressive:
With a wingspan of up to 8-feet-wide, golden eagles are capable of tremendous uplift. Despite the hollow bones needed for flight, their bodies boast incredible strength through sheer muscle power as this footage uploaded by Twister Aura shows.
Most likely, this is a female golden eagle. Like most raptors, the species shows strong sexual dimorphism, or a notable difference in size between males and females. Moreover, an adult red fox is a large meal for a golden, so it’s likely this eagle is carrying off carrion to feed a nest of chicks. A suitable meal for the giant homes these birds build for their young, to be sure.
If you’ve been with us here at Outsider for a while, though, or simply share our passion for eagles, then you’ll know this is far from the first time a golden has taken down big mammalian prey.
Golden Eagles Make For Fantastic Falconry Partners – And Stay Wild
It’s a rare sight, but golden eagles will even go after deer. In ecosystems where both species overlap, a predator and prey relationship does exist. Goldens will even take down mountain goats and juvenile bears as prey in the wild.
This unbelievable tenacity and strength makes gold eagles a popular modern choice for falconry. Falconry is the art of hunting wild animals with a trained bird of prey. While named after falcons (raptors often trained for it), falconry encompasses many birds of prey; the only true stipulation being whether or not the species takes to training. As such, raptors as large and imposing as a golden eagle can also become falconry partners, too.
In fact, “Golden eagles are the only eagle allowed for use in falconry in the United States,” FWS.gov cites. “Due to rule changes in 2008, it is no longer necessary to get a federal permit to possess and transport golden eagles in Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho, among other states,” USFWS updated in the 21st century, marking a stark change in the practice of falconry in the Western hemisphere.
The 60 Minutes featurette above is an excellent example of goldens partnering with humans for falconry. And whenever they do, they remain wild and free to return to the wilderness at any time.