Report: Eagle Picked Up Baby in 1881

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 20th, 2012

We know they have been doing it for a long time, thanks to the work of paleoanthropologist Lee Berger (see here).

Art by Darren Naish.

The historical record is filled with cases. Take this one from over 130 years ago:

Reno Evening Gazette
Reno, Nevada

August 26, 1881

The Bald-Headed Eagle and the Baby.

Toronto Globe.

A bald-headed eagle hovering over St. John’s Island [now known as Prince Edward Island, Canada] suddenly swooped down and attempted to carry off a two-year-old child of Mr. Clancy’s that was playing in the field alone. The light clothing gave way with every tug of the voracious bird and torn into ribbons. Some men working near by came up in time to save the child from injury, but the eagle refused to go away until shot at.

{End of 1881 article}

The appearance of the condor (a vulture) vs the eagle carrying away prey is to be found in the Tintin series.

Tintin was influenced by Herge’s friend, Bernard Heuvelmans and his well-documented reports of eagles carrying off children in the Alps and elsewhere in Europe.

(For more on this cryptozoological topic, in French, see here.)

The YouTube of the golden eagle “lifting up a baby” was admitted to be a hoax on December 19th.
eagle hoax

On Wednesday, the Montreal-based Centre NAD posted a blog owning up to the fact that the video was the work of several students in the school’s 3D Animation and Digital Design program.

“Both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated into the film afterwards,” the school wrote, citing Normand Archambault, Loic Mireault and Felix Marquis-Poulin as the student masterminds behind the clip.

“The production simulation workshop class, offered in fifth semester, aims to produce creative projects according to industry production and quality standards,” the blog added. Source.

Thanks to Jerome Clark for sending the 1881 article to me, first shared here long ago.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

3 Responses to “Report: Eagle Picked Up Baby in 1881”

  1. BobSkinn responds:

    I have found the following US report in a UK newspaper, The York Herald of 8th October 1888 p. 5.

    “AN EAGLE DEVOURS A CHILD. An authenticated telegram from Wichita, Kansas, says that the baby of William Beattie, a farmer, was carried off by an eagle, killed, and devoured. The baby was a few weeks old, and was sleeping on a blanket outside the house, while the father was at work near by. A little girl ran to him and told him that the baby ” had flied away.” The neighbours were assembled, and the eagle followed to its nest and shot ; but only the skeleton of the child was found.”

    Others might be able to find out more about this story- just a tall story, or with some basis in fact?

  2. skeptik responds:

    The eagle-and-child story is famous in Norway, where it happened.

    As a 3-year old Svanhild Hartvigsen was carried away by an eagle 5th of June 1932, in Leka, N Trøndelag. She still remembers the terrible bird trying to kill her.

    200 people participated in the search, they found her baby shoe at the bottom of a cliff where they knew a sea eagle nested. 3 men climbed up to find her, apparently dead, and there is an audio recording with one of the climbers in the national archives.


    The story was controversial among ornithologists in Norway, because there was politically a great campaign to preserve Norwegian wildlife. Some maintain that the 19kg girl could not have been carried 1700 metres from where she was picked up, but given that she remember seeing the eagle flying towards her, and then waking up on a stone ledge in the cliffs, it is little reason to doubt her. Since the people were in church, there’s no reason why the eagle could not have carried her portions of the stretch, until getting her near the nest.

    Hartvigsen died 81 years old in 2010.

  3. skeptik responds:

    There’s a nice fortean rightup in English here:

    Personally, I believe her. However, there is another sinister possibility not researched (AFAIK); someone placed the kid there in order to let the eagle kill her.

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