Golden eagles are some of nature’s most successful avian predators. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Alatai Mountains that lie in the remote borderland between Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. A recent post from Instagram’s leading nature-related account @natureismetal documents some of the predatory prowess that has carried these giant birds to the top of food chain in many parts of the world. See the stunning footage for yourself below.
This bird possesses “raw strength and precision,” wrote @natureismetal in the August 2 post. “With fierce determination, it swoops in, clutches a mountain goat, and despite the weight, ascends skywards. High above, where the air is thin and the world below seems distant, it releases its prey, letting gravity do the final deed.”
The unlikely footage shows an eagle grabbing its prey by the horns before soaring off across the rugged terrain only to drop the goat onto a rocky precipice hundreds of feet below. It’s unclear what species of goat was captured in this video, but it may be a goral—one of the few relatives of the all-white mountain goats that inhabit the Rocky Mountains of North America.
According to the National Park Service, golden eagles in North America prey mainly on small mammals like rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels. But they’ll go after larger birds, mountain goat kids, and domestic livestock if the opportunity arises.
Earlier this year, we wrote about a video that shows a golden eagle eating a pronghorn antelope alive. That clip, posted to Youtube in September 2021, has garnered more than 400,000 views.
In Alaska, golden eagles are known to prey on young dall sheep and caribou. “They’re built for killing,” said Fairbanks wildlife biologist Jack Whitman in a 2004 article in the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Alasksa Wildlife News. “[They] constantly watch the bands of sheep, and if a lamb strays away from its mother there’s an eagle zooming in.”