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Sami reports about golden eagles hunting reindeer calves confirmed by BBC
October 21, 2009 9:50 AM   Subscribe

The BBC has captured footage of golden eagles hunting reindeer calves in northern Finland, confirming Sami reports. For more about the Sami, you can watch this series of videos, which cover a wide range of subjects, among them the language, arts and crafts, religion and music. And here is more about Sami reindeer folklore.
posted by Kattullus (38 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The BBC also captured footage of a failed attempt by an eagle to capture a calf (it's in the main link, just scroll down).
posted by Kattullus at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2009


BBC bastards - now I owe Nuvtte several large drinks and an apology for calling him a bullshitting hallucinator who'd had one too many steaming mugs of fly agaric reindeer piss.
posted by Abiezer at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Golden Eagles are well known as predators of caribou calves in Alaska, and reindeer are domesticated caribou.

Can't say I blame the eagles; caribou meat is one of nature's great treats.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2009


See also:

Mountain goats hunted by golden eagle

Much closer and more visceral than the reindeer footage. Remind me not to mess with these birds.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just don't mess with the one with the glowing red nose, eagles.
posted by yhbc at 10:05 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


First they came for the reindeer, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a reindeer...
posted by spiderskull at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


Ah, yoiking! I saw Wimme Saari perform in the late 90s. For his encore he more or less gargled. It was riveting. No, really!

As for the reindeer calves. Well, and eagle's gotta eat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:08 AM on October 21, 2009


Look out, Marlon Lowe!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:13 AM on October 21, 2009


"One of the things I witnessed was an eagle up a kilometre high and it put its wings up over its head and it fell in a bizarre way, vertically," Dr Oakes described.

"Then in the last 100 yards it went into a low powerful glide and hit the back of a calf."


"Bizarre way"? It's called stooping, or diving. Raptors do this all the time. So do a lot of other kinds of birds. The dude should try looking up once in a while.

I'm a little surprised that golden eagles attacking mammals is something that needed confirmation. They like sheep and goats and cows (the babies of these, really), as well as rabbits and squirrels. And owls, actually. Saw a golden eagle eat a barn owl once. It was simultaneously distressing and cool.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Christmas may be a little late this year.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I owe you several large drinks" and "steaming mug of fly agaric reindeer piss" do not belong in the same sentence.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2009


Genjiand, I am jealous. I love Wimme Saari.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2009


Eagles: 1
Reindeer: 0

Bird of prey, indeed.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:32 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I always feel a little funny when I walk my dogs down the bike path where the bald eagles live.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2009


Balds tend to hunt fish -- it's the goldens that are more likely to get Fido. I'm always worried about the local falcon going after our parrots when we take them outside...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:35 AM on October 21, 2009


Stay the fuck away from me, golden eagles! Assholes.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 10:37 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, balds are fish eagles, not "true" eagles. Not that they won't take land animals, but it's less likely. They might try to eat your dogs if the dogs are already dead, or if the dogs are being carried off by another raptor. Balds are pirates.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on October 21, 2009


Spinifex, the perfromance was part of a Northside Records festival of Scandinavian musicians. Looks like they are sill organizing events. Perhaps he will come back....

Wimme also hit on one of my professors at an Indigenous Librarian's Conference in Finland, but I can't really claim that as my story, although she knew who he was since I had loaned her one of his CDs....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:42 AM on October 21, 2009


Related?
The absence of mammalian competitors facilitated the evolution of much larger eagles and owls on Cuba and may have likewise precipitated the rapid morphological shift seen here. Haast's eagle, the authors write, “represents an extreme example of how freedom from competition on island ecosystems can rapidly influence morphological adaptation and speciation.”,
Nice cartoon here.

I wonder if there is any evidence that these eagles are increasing in size, and if it's at all related to a decrease in say, wolf populations.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:43 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this something I would need to go past Keha III to understand?
posted by incster at 10:44 AM on October 21, 2009


Eagle vs. Robo-Eagle
posted by ...possums at 11:00 AM on October 21, 2009


That eagle's wingspan had to have been at least 6 feet. It could have taken our a myriad of common domesticated animals with size like that (dog, cat, rabbit, the neighbor...).
posted by intrigued at 11:00 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do the Eagles have sharp talons?
posted by tommasz at 11:00 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is like a dog chasing a car. Once they catch it what are they going to do with it? It seems it would take some effort for an eagle to actually kill it and it is certainly too heavy for it to carry it away.
posted by Gungho at 11:01 AM on October 21, 2009


Golden eagles have wingspans of 6.5 to 7.5 feet, and yes, their talons are extremely sharp, and very long.

I once had the experience of having a golden fly over me - maybe 20 feet over my head - and when its shadow passed over me I knew how ground squirrels feel. I ducked, and barely resisted the urge to dive into the bushes.
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do the Eagles have sharp talons?

Very -- they also have tendon/bone structure that delivers a hell of a grasp when their feet/talons come in contact with prey. They immobilize some of their prey by puncturing the spinal cord, though I don't know how well that would work with larger mammals.

It seems it would take some effort for an eagle to actually kill it

It doesn't have to be dead to be eaten.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2009


Wait, is this a metaphor for American Imperialism, or the war on Christmas?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on October 21, 2009


incster: "Is this something I would need to go past Keha III to understand?"

Indeed. Into the wilds of not-Helsinki where the people talk funny and the bears will eat you (if the eagles don't get you first).
posted by severiina at 11:54 AM on October 21, 2009


This is such a serendipitous link - just the other day I was watching a video of using golden eagles to hunt wolves in Mongolia.
posted by Calzephyr at 11:54 AM on October 21, 2009


I just hate the fucking Eagles, man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, is this a metaphor for American Imperialism

Can't be - the golden eagle is found throughout the northern hemisphere. The bald (the U.S. national symbol, or whatever) is in North America only.

So I vote that it's a war on Christmas.
posted by rtha at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2009


Eagles are impressive birds. The mountain goat link was posted by madamjujujive last year. The scene about 5 and a half minutes in where the eagle is flying with a mountain goat in its talons freaks me out. If you have ever had one of these things flying right over your head you can see how huge they are. Good thing I hadn't seen the video before I saw the eagle 50 feet or so over my head, or the one that flew off a fence post five feet from me, but at least that time I was in a car.
posted by caddis at 12:49 PM on October 21, 2009


Cool. That mountain goat video was great, thanks Pantengliopoli. Whenever I see the cute little baby animals, I'm always hoping for the golden eagle to swoop down and eat them. Sometimes I get my wish.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2009


On a related note, Mongolians hunt wolves using Golden Eagles. There's video at the site linked - I was rather gobsmacked at the whole idea.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:34 PM on October 21, 2009


Thanks for posting that! (And curses to Vodafone Italy for not being able to handle the clip... or really, allowing me to read most of the links today.)

The Sámi reindeer herding (providing a living for about 1000 families in Finnish Lapland) is a fascinating culture, and sometimes heralded for being an ecologically sustainable way of life. In practice, that is mostly not the case these days, due to the Sámi having abandoned the nomadic, pre-industrial lifestyle and the present number of reindeer being simply too large for the fragile Arctic environment to handle, and the situation is apparently worsening by the year. In fact, I've read the majority of herds in Finland can't survive on their own (their staple lichen having grown alarmingly thin) and receive supplementary feeding.

The Sámi herdsmen receive financial recompensation from the Finnish government for all the reindeer killed in car accidents (~3000 animals/year) or by predators (~2000/year). For the latter, the recompensation is twice as high, since the remains of many of the reindeer snatched by wolves, bears, wolverines and yes, eagles, will never be recovered for counting. Still, poaching for endangered predators, motivated by the financial losses to reindeer herders, has been a heated topic (or one of them, land disputes being another longstanding hot potato) up in the North for years.

The golden eagle has been doing much better ever since the state began to compensate every paliskunta (cooperative of reindeer herdsmen with a defined herding area) for every live eagle nesting in their territory, turning live eagles more profitable than dead ones.

Caveat: as someone born and raised in Eastern Finland, outside the ~35% of the surface area of our country still (in theory) counted as reindeer herding territory, my experience with the culturally autonomous Sámi, as well as the reindeer, has been limited. (One of my childhood friends was granted Sámi nationality on the basis of her maternal lineage, and another married a Sámi reindeer herder and moved into the wilderness near the Norwegian border. And up until now, I've always managed to stop in time or swerve off to the side of the road when I've suddenly found myself speeding towards a herd of reindeer. Who, may I add, just stand and stare - with what to me seems like genuine contempt - while you shake and twitch with that near-death-avoiding adrenaline rush. Ahh, life in the melancholy tundra.)
posted by sively at 1:55 PM on October 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


due to the Sámi having abandoned the nomadic, pre-industrial lifestyle and the present number of reindeer being simply too large for the fragile Arctic environment to handle, and the situation is apparently worsening by the year. In fact, I've read the majority of herds in Finland can't survive on their own (their staple lichen having grown alarmingly thin) and receive supplementary feeding.

Well, let's be careful not to put this on all on the Sámi choosing to live unsustainably. We're on the last stages of a longer process where the traditional range over which the herds grazed and migrated has been carved up by development, much of it industrial and not indigenous. There's much more to say about this, but the Sámi have been fighting development on their traditional lands (and slowly and steadily losing sovereignty and lands) for many years, on top of which climate change and oil development (etc.) are accelerating the destruction.

The Alaska native hunters I hang with, who depend heavily on migratory caribou for primary subsistence, know that history in detail. And it worries them.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:25 PM on October 21, 2009


There's no real reason they couldn't hunt humans as well. Their entire strategy appears to require the aid of gravity, but clamping down hard enough with their sharp talons and enough momentum, I don't see why they couldn't just as easily toss a man over the edge of a cliff.

It's a pretty dick move.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:27 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm always worried about the local falcon going after our parrots when we take them outside...posted by Pantengliopoli

That reminds me of the San Francisco urban legend (spread by Herb Caen) of the parrot who had been taught to say "Merry Christmas". The owner left it on a perch outside one day and a hawk swooped down and grabbed it. All across the city people looked up when they heard the cries of "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!"
posted by eye of newt at 8:18 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


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