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Eye-Witness Account of Golden Eagle Killing Calf

Dale T. Wood
Publication Information
Journal: 
Condor
Volume: 
48
Issue: 
3 (May-June)
Section: 
From Field and Study
Year: 
1946
Pages: 
143

Eye-witness Account of Golden Eagle Killing Calf.-Fred Houk is a cattleman of many years experience in the Lompoc area, California. I describe the following experience as he told it to me.

On November 23, 1945, Mr. Houk was riding across some hilly, grassy range land about two miles east of Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, California. He noticed the excitement of some crows whose point of interest was just over a rise. Riding to the crest he expected to see a wildcat or a coyote. Instead a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaytos) was the focus of attention. It was perched on something in the tall grass about 150 yards from him. He presumed it to have a rabbit or squirrel. Upon approaching the eagle it started to fly, attempting to carry its prey in its talons. Mr. Houk saw that the eagle’s prey was a calf and found it to be near death and bleeding considerably about the back and head.

The calf was new-born, probably premature, and was estimated by Mr. Houk to weigh about twenty-live pounds. The parent cow was standing off some distance and appeared to be considerably disturbed; Mr. Houk believed it had been driven from the calf by the attacking eagle. From his observation of the eagle’s attempt to carry off the calf he firmly believes that the eagle would have made away with the calf had it weighed five pounds less. This occurred on ground only slightly sloping.

On November 25, an eagle (presumed to be the same bird) was shot by a quail hunter near the same place. It weighed 11 1/2 pounds, and its wing spread was measured as 6 1/2 feet-DALE T. WOOD, Lompoc, California, Mizrch 12,1946.  

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