North America is home to more than 30 types of raptors—but none more impressive than the golden eagle. This giant bird of prey occupies forested mountains, barren deserts, and rolling grasslands throughout the American West, where it scours the landscape for prey using its keen eyesight and a wingspan that’s longer than most NBA players are tall. Its diet consists of the usual raptor fare—rabbits, large rodents, various types of reptiles—with one very notable exception. In rare cases, usually during austere winter months, when more manageable prey is scarce, golden eagles are known to kill and eat pronghorn antelope.
An eagle eating an antelope is one of those predator-prey scenarios that you usually only read about. But thanks to an unnamed videographer who captured just such a scene playing out in real time a few years back and posted the resulting footage to Youtube, you can see it for yourself below.
Though details are scant to non-existent, the video clearly shows a full-grown golden eagle locked in an unrelenting death grip atop the back of a struggling pronghorn antelope. The snow-covered terrain behind the antelope is dotted with sagebrush. The steep grade of the land seems to indicate a scene that’s unfolding somewhere in the Intermountain West. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that setting as northwestern Wyoming, where both golden eagles and pronghorn antelope abound.
The antelope is clearly distressed as it walks around with the full weight of the sharp-eyed bird on its back. There are visible trails of blood streaming down its side. To be honest, the pronghorn is puts up one hell of a fight given the circumstances.
With a circumpolar distribution that extends from North America into parts of Europe and Asia, the golden eagle is one of the most powerful raptors in the entire Northern Hemisphere. Its “pressing power” approaches 800 pounds-per-square-inch (according to aviantreport.com), so it’s no wonder the eagle in the video above has complete command over the pronghorn.
The video is short, at just over a minute long. But it’s not the only example of eagles taking out impossibly large prey animals. If you’d like to spend some more time examining evidence of eagles preying on pronghorns, and other large mammals, check the Youtube clips below.