Girl-Snatching Eagle

Average reading time is about 6 minutes
AN AMAZING FACT:  Great birds of prey have always filled man with admiration, and even fear. There are many legends regarding stories of large birds snatching and flying off with large creatures, such as sheep, or calves, but most of these accounts are purely fiction. The largest raptors, vultures, are primarily carrion feeders and don’t have the ability for great feats of lifting. So man has generally blamed the great eagles, like the common golden eagle, for most stories.

The largest golden eagle on record measured 41 inches in length, weighed 20 pounds, and had a wingspan of 8 feet. The maximum load for the average golden eagle is usually only about 8 to 10 pounds. But when birds have been disturbed at a kill and need to make an emergency exit they seem to be able to haul greater loads.

Most tales of children being carried off by eagles have been scoffed at by ornithologists, but there is at least one case that apparently has been fully authenticated. In 1932, a four-year-old girl from the island of Leka, Norway, was playing in the yard of her parents’ farmhouse. Suddenly a huge white-tailed sea eagle, a relative of the golden eagle, swooped down, grabbed her by her dress, and carried her off. The enormous bird tried to carry the girl (who was apparently small for her age) back to its nest 800 feet up the side of a mountain more than a mile away. But the effort was too great and the poor child was dropped on a narrow ledge about 50 feet from the nest.

One theory explaining the incident is that the bird had the advantage of the powerful up-current of air coming off the ocean. A search party organized by the desperate parents pinpointed the eagle soaring above the nest, and the girl was found in an unconscious state. Except for some scratches and bruises she was unharmed. The fortunate girl, Svanhild Hansen, grew up happily and kept the little dress she wore that frightful day, with the holes made by the eagle’s talons.

It’s hard to imagine that eagle wings could carry a little girl, but did you know that the Bible teaches that a grown woman was carried by eagle wings? “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exodus 19:4

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