Bald eagle predation of a white-tailed deer fawn

Jared F. Duquette, Jerrold L. Belant, Dean E. Beyer, Nathan J. Svoboda, Craig A. Albright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle) is an adaptable predatory bird that commonly captures live prey, but regularly scavenges. Large mammalian prey (e.g., Odocoileus virginianus [White-tailed Deer]) have been observed in Bald Eagle diets, but were considered scavenged. To our knowledge, Bald Eagle predation of a live ungulate has only been reported once, and occurred in Menominee County, MI. In June 2009, we captured and radiocollared a female White-tailed Deer fawn (2.7 kg) in the south-central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The fawn was last radiolocated alive 8 h after release in a short-height (20-30 cm) grassland field along a river approximately 570 m from an eagle nest. Estimated time of mortality of the fawn was 10 h post release. Approximately 27 h post release, 2 legs, >50% fawn hide, and the radiocollar were present in the nest along with 2 eagle nestlings (estimated age 9-10 wks). We believe this was a possible predation event based on the 8-h period between fawn relocations, fawn movement, foraging behavior of the nesting eagles, and presence of the carcass remains and radiocollar in the nest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalNortheastern Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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