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Eagles carrying off children and babies

Warning: this video is a fake

If I was an Eagle you'd be history mate!

If I was an Eagle you'd be history mate!

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 [2]

Biofort [1] 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 [3] 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, [4] 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.

Philippine Eagle Davao City.  Also known as the Monkey Eating Eagle

Philippine Eagle Davao City. Also known as the Monkey Eating Eagle

Skeptic Observations

There are some things to bear in mind [2] 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 [5] 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.

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The now extinct Haast's eagle [6], 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 [4] 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).


Possible survivals

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 [7] with a 23 foot wingspan may have coexisted with early hominids around 5 Million years ago but not with true humans. Aiolornis incredibilis [8],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[8] 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 [8] 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 [9] 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 [10] will never be resolved and the Brentford Griffin can only be regarded as a weak piece of evidence when studying Anomalous Big Birds.


The (W)rap(tor)

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.

without them this post would have been impossible

without them this post would have been impossible


  1. Biofort
  2. Strange History
  3. Loren Coleman
  5. Deer on power line
  6. Haast's Eagle
  7. Argentavis Argentavis Magnificens
  8. Magnificens — Largest Flying Bird Ever, Giant Teratorn Facts, Extinction, Wingspan, Etc

    9. The Brentford Griffin

    10. The Charles Walton Murder

    1. 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


AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on April 23, 2020:

Thanks tenochtitlan. I did not know of this story.

It seems likely that small children HAVE been taken by eagles or other large birds, but some reported cases seem to be unreliable for one reason or another.

Tenochtitlan on April 23, 2020:

Many Buddhist children know the story of Patachara, a young woman who lost a baby to an Eagle at the time of the Buddha. Her baby was newborn - the story is well known. We’ll never know if it was a vulture or eagle but it’s probably based on true events from ~2500 years ago,

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 11, 2015:

Just based on the video alone, it seems improbable that an eagle; birds being extremely lightweight, could carry off a human child, much less a deer or a bear. There are many cases of wild animals being blamed when human malfeasance turned out to be involved. I am not saying there is no danger, I'm just saying that it is most likely exaggerated. Great hub, very thought provoking.

d.william from Somewhere in the south on March 14, 2013:

that is funny. I guess i had better take more care when digging in my garden then.

d.william from Somewhere in the south on March 14, 2013:

Interesting article and an enjoyable read. Kind of a scary thought of birds carrying off young children, you never can tell what is fact or fiction. Stranger things have happened.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on January 14, 2013:

Thanks DDE. It was fun researching it.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 14, 2013:

I found this Hub to be useful and interesting thanks for sharing such knowledge.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on December 19, 2012:

Very relevant elfdelite, thanks. I will have to integrate this into the hub.

Elfdelite on December 18, 2012:

So I just saw this on YouTube:

Thought it might be relevant to your article.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on October 04, 2012:

Thanks for the comment Kate. I have not found much happening in this field recently though, so this may be it for a while.

Kate McBride from Donegal Ireland on October 04, 2012:

There is so much research and balanced opinion in this hub that it was very enjoyable to read. Voted it up and interesting. Thanks!

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on September 12, 2012:

Thanks vibesites. I am still keeping an eye our for new data on this subject

vibesites from United States on September 12, 2012:

I love reading about nature and the fascinating creatures. Interesting and informative hub. :)

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on August 25, 2012:

Right Tammy: people do not realise that big birds are dangerous. An eagle may not be able to carry an adult human but could kill one.

I saw a film once where a man was hunting wolves with an eagle which suggests avian abductions are not impossible

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on August 25, 2012:

Right Tammy: people do not realise that big birds are dangerous. An eagle may not be able to carry an adult human but could kill one.

I saw a film once where a man was hunting wolves with an eagle which suggests avian abductions are not impossible

Tammy from North Carolina on August 25, 2012:

This is a really, really scary idea that I never considered. This gives me goosebumps. When I was a young child I had ducks and a hawk killed all of them this way. I wonder how many parents tell their kids.. you better behave... I hear that hawk coming.. Yikes! Very interesting hub!

whowas on July 29, 2012:

A well written hub speculating about these folk-stories of avian abduction. I'm inclined, on the strength of a lack of evidence to convince me otherwise and the startling similarities between these stories and those of faery and alien abductions, to put these tales in the category of myth and folklore.

Further, I don't know of any living bird that could carry off a child in full flight without breaking many of the laws of Newtonian Physics!

Evenso, this made for a great read. Thank you.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on July 20, 2012:

Thanks foysal8990. It was fun researching it.

foysal8990 on July 19, 2012:

I like it and it is very interesting. By seeing your eagle pics for few moments i went in the harry potter movie. Thank you. on June 28, 2012:

You can see more at

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on February 20, 2012:

Interesting Story Chris. It would be nice to know more.

Chris on February 20, 2012:

I was picked up by a large bird when I was a small child in AL and carried to a nest on a rocky cliff. The mother was going to feed me to her babies, and she was feeding me too. Using my feelings and thoughts, I befriended them the best I could to try to get them not to attack me-there were 3-5 baby birds from my memory, and also an egg or 2 that didn't hatch, so the remnants were there, with the mother having pecked them open so the babies could feed on their aborted siblings. Eventually, one day when the mother was away hunting for worms and insects and small animals like rats and rabbits or other children, (none of which I could eat, and I was getting hungry!) I escaped down the mountainside to the CA city below, got help, and was returned home. I remember watching my mother screaming after the bird, trying to scare it off with a broom, getting upset and going inside because it took me, the neighbor woman across the street watching, the look of the fields and houses from up so high, and how hard it was to breathe at that high altitude. She did come down to let me breathe easier, it's like she knew I couldn't breathe and she wanted me alive to feed her babies after being fattened up some more.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on November 08, 2011:

Thanks Hello,Hello. I enjoyed doing the research.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 08, 2011:

An unusual article and very interesting. I enjoyed reading all these information. Thank you.

AlexK2009 (author) from Edinburgh, Scotland on November 05, 2011:

I am glad you said hinting, truthfornow, because the stories COULD be the result sof a common quirk of our brains.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on November 05, 2011:

Interesting hub. It is always fascinating that different parts of the world end up having the same stories, hinting that there is some truth to them.

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