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Golden Eagle and Fox

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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 14:10   #26
Chosun Juan
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Speaking of Aquila's taking foxes ....
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...composer=false




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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 15:41   #27
Hauksen
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Hi Chosun,

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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Speaking of Aquila's taking foxes ....
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...composer=false
I would have expected an eagle to have its talons spread and extended forward shortly before striking prey.

Not sure what to think of that ...

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Henning
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 16:00   #28
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Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
I would have expected an eagle to have its talons spread and extended forward shortly before striking prey.

Not sure what to think of that ...
Looks like it is just starting to bring its talons forward - if the pic had been taken a second later, they'd be full forward?
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Old Wednesday 5th June 2019, 16:30   #29
Chosun Juan
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Hi Chosun,



I would have expected an eagle to have its talons spread and extended forward shortly before striking prey.

Not sure what to think of that ...

Regards,

Henning
Hi Henning,

It's hard to determine the entire story from one frame. I'm not that familiar with trail cam formats, but is it likely to be on the wide angle side of the equation?

Certainly Wedgies are bigger than foxes, though not heavier. It looks like the Wedgie may be about to bring the talons forward to strike [EDIT][ - just saw that Nutcracker had similar thoughts while I was typing this ] - this is a very last minute thing when undertaking these low to the ground attacks ..... not at all like an Osprey that leads with its talons and eyeballs ! :)

Researchers (see Dr. Penny Olsen's work) have documented about 10% of a Wedgies diet is Foxes, 10% is Feral Cats, there is a % (can't remember the amount) that is Wallaby's /Roos (mostly younger I would imagine), some Birds, some Reptiles, other, and the majority is Rabbits /Hares. It is very much individual range dependent. I have even seen footage of two Wedgies killing a Dingo, and apparently they have also learnt to take young feral Pigs, Goats, and Deer.

I hope they continue to evolve into more fiercesome predators to take these larger introduced mammals regularly, because of course the flip side is that there is a plethora of road kill in certain country /outback locations where they could almost devolve into lazy vultures ! Certainly that abundant carrion plays an important part in getting youngsters in those areas through certain phases or seasons of their life. I am somewhat heartened that European /Asian, and American Goldies also do similar scavenging at times /locations.

I'm glad that in ~250 short years they have learnt to take foxes - the only good fox is a dead fox - especially in this country.




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Old Thursday 6th June 2019, 22:31   #30
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Hi Chosun,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
It's hard to determine the entire story from one frame. I'm not that familiar with trail cam formats, but is it likely to be on the wide angle side of the equation?
That might indeed play a role. The lighting situation could also play a role, the eagle might be farther away than I thought on first looking at the picture.

I have never seen Wedge-tailed Eagles, either. White-tailed Eagles seem to extend their talons forward fairly early in an almost lazy manner, and harriers seem to almost do it subconsciously even before swooping, depending on the probability of a hit their biological computer calculates at any moment they're hovering near potential prey ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Researchers (see Dr. Penny Olsen's work) have documented about 10% of a Wedgies diet is Foxes, 10% is Feral Cats, there is a % (can't remember the amount) that is Wallaby's /Roos (mostly younger I would imagine), some Birds, some Reptiles, other, and the majority is Rabbits /Hares. It is very much individual range dependent. I have even seen footage of two Wedgies killing a Dingo, and apparently they have also learnt to take young feral Pigs, Goats, and Deer.
Highly interesting, thanks a lot! What are their hunting (and killing) tatics against foxes? Considering the relative size and fighting potential (not sure what the proper English term might be), attacking from the blind spot as shown in the picture under discussion might in fact appear realistic.

Quote:
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I'm glad that in ~250 short years they have learnt to take foxes - the only good fox is a dead fox - especially in this country.
Well, here in Northern Germany, foxes are native. They are predating more on shore birds than they used to, but that's entirely a byproduct of human activity changing the environment. Connecting islands and holms to the mainland by railways provided the fox with an invasion route into the shore birds' main breeding grounds ... :-(

We do have other introduced predators, such as the Raccoon, the Raccoon Dog and the American Mink, but the conservationists are pretty relaxed about these as they seem to have very little impact on native species. It's pretty much impossible to extinguish their well-established populations, anyway.

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Henning
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Old Friday 7th June 2019, 01:55   #31
Chosun Juan
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
.....Researchers (see Dr. Penny Olsen's work) have documented about 10% of a Wedgies diet is Foxes, 10% is Feral Cats, there is a % (can't remember the amount) that is Wallaby's /Roos (mostly younger I would imagine), some Birds, some Reptiles, other, and the majority is Rabbits /Hares. It is very much individual range dependent. I have even seen footage of two Wedgies killing a Dingo, and apparently they have also learnt to take young feral Pigs, Goats, and Deer......
..... Highly interesting, thanks a lot! What are their hunting (and killing) tatics against foxes? Considering the relative size and fighting potential (not sure what the proper English term might be), attacking from the blind spot as shown in the picture under discussion might in fact appear realistic.....
Hi Henning, I'm sure they have many different hunting styles (some that I haven't seen) dependent on situation and opportunity.

For example, when a Little Eagle (half the size of a Wedgie) is hunting rabbits, they will position themselves (through tight circling, or a glide into position, or a stepped drop from much higher, or even ambush from a tree) about 50m in height above the target, and then just plunge alarmingly straight down - talons out at the end - and must hit the rabbits with almighty force. Sometimes the speed they gather is so fast that I fear for their wellbeing.

The Wedgies are a little different on foxes. All the footage /pictures I have seen involve more horizontal approaches (though still at speed). It amazes me how fast Wedgies can go in low flight sometimes without even seeming to move their wings - they just seem to gravitate or hang glide toward their prey. Low quartering is the proper term used I think.

Other times it will be a flapping pursuit style flight. Generally the principle seems to be to gather /maintain speed and adjust direction /attack at the last second. Even other times there will be more of the classic 'swoop' (another proper term I think) from mid level altitudes and converting that to lower level horizontal speed [very much like in that classic fake video of the Eagle swooping on a child sitting out in the open in a park and getting hit from behind and picked up ! lol :]

It has to be remembered that Foxes and other dangerous bitey animals have the potential to inflict damage /death if it goes wrong in any way. So surprise, opportunity, positional advantage, even weakening (as in chasing to exhaust) all play a role. You are right in your thoughts that attacking from "the blind spot" (usually somewhere from 3/4 behind) is the method used. They want to stay away from the bitey end, unless it is on their terms. Most usually from what I have seen this involves a moving away target (or ambushed from behind stationary one) - making it more difficult (though not impossible) for the fox to turn around and use its jaws.

[I am not sure of the attack method on Feral Cats, as they can get to quite a size, and one of those going beserko could cause some serious damage with 4 sets of claws as well as jaws and lightning fast reflexes and ability to contort /fight. Perhaps ambush plays a much bigger role with these in the approach].

The killing method seems typical for that size / dangerous category of prey - the talons of one leg through the hip/ upper spine area (may also be the shoulder area on bitey prey that are hoisted skywards) to immobilize motion, and the talons of the other leg at the business end (brain /eyes /neck) and often clamped around jaws as well at the same time. The two legs seem to be stretched apart with talons locked /pulsing onto to the respective areas to prevent manouverability. Later in the attack the Eagle may type of stand on its half dead prey to pin it down - no doubt with additional carnage being caused by the talons through the chest area to finish it off. I think it's plausible that they would also rip at the main arteries of the neck etc with their beaks when positioned correctly.

This seems to be the tactic on young /smaller deer too.
There is also the case of picking prey up to some height (perhaps even because it is too heavy to lift for an extended period) and dropping it to disable it. Things like piglets and goat kids seem to just be canon fodder - the main issue would be separating it from its parents.

As for attacking kangaroos, I have seen a couple of methods.
One is for solitary Eagles to pursue with low flight and then attack with a hind talon straight through the back of the head to the brain. This seems to work on quite large roos (I have seen footage - as part of a documentary I think - don't recall the reference - killing a fleeing ~4ft~5ft tall roo this way). So mid sized. It was pretty much instantaneous. [As an aside, I have also personally seen a Little Eagle - female of 1.3kg~3lb kill a buck rabbit of 1.8kg~4lb by ambush out of a tree and spearing the hind talon straight through the skull right between the eyes straight into the brain. Again instantaneous].
The other method is a tag team effort on adult sized roos and I have even seen footage of two Wedgies killing a Dingo this way. Here the Eagles swoop down in turns - raking the back /neck /head with their talons and then float up again. In this team way, the attack is relentless, yet shared by the Eagles. They seem to exhaust the fight out of their prey this way, progressively striking more and sinking talons in various areas as the risk to them lessens, perhaps blood loss plays a part. They even use tactics of distraction. Eventually they kill the prey in a similar fashion to other prey. One Eagle will target the head /neck, and the other the hips /spine / chest, eventually pinning it down and finishing it off.

I have even seen footage of 3 Wedgies teaming up to attack a large roo - they only thing that saved it in my estimation was that it hopped double quick time over to a 4wd that was filming the encounter.

I'm not sure if our Wedgies drag goats off cliffs Himalayan (or Spanish mountains) style - though nothing would surprise me.
I think with all the roads criss-crossing the outback and countryside that there is ample easier pickings in fresh road kill. Indeed, the dietary analysis Dr Olsen did did not make any determination on whether the prey was alive or dead when taken.

I think like in most things, the more interference there is in an environment - the more animals are forced to adapt /take advantage of new opportunities. Certain family units of Raptors can diverge quite markedly in their behaviours depending on location, ecosystem, and learned experience, and even within the family unit. This was brought home to me quite clearly by observing over a long period of time, a resident pale morph female Little Eagle mother who was expert in hunting terrestrial prey - mostly rabbits (about 1 a day or so), and bearded dragons. One of her dark morph daughters on the other hand, who fledged to a more forested environment was a consumate bird hunter - ripping them out of trees at high speed, taking them mid-air, and seeming to have no interest in the plentiful mammalian prey.

I know of a pair of Wedgies that are in quite a wild area - so no road kill available - they are adept hunters judging by the constant stream of young that they fledge. Similarly, the island State of Tasmania which hosts our largest Eagle, the endangered Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax fleayi) has large natural areas, and I have read of observations of Eagles regularly staking out a favourite creekside game trail and predate the quite large Wallabies that come by.

Check these books out - I bought the first one long ago, and it was invaluable in fostering my interest. I think you can also find these books in downloadable form these days too.
https://www.amazon.com/Australian-Bi.../dp/0868400394
https://www.booktopia.com.au/birds-o...643104365.html
http://www.pittwateronlinenews.com/a...enny-olsen.php
https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/5054/





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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 12:37   #32
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Hi Chosun,

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Hi Henning, I'm sure they have many different hunting styles (some that I haven't seen) dependent on situation and opportunity.
Thanks a lot, that's highly interesting! Fascinating which techniques the eagles have developed to deal with a very dangerous prey that could easily kill the attacking bird if the attack goes wrong. To be able to "make a living" of that, they must be able to pull it off very reliably!

Regards,

Henning
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