On May 23, a raccoon climbed into a bald eagle nest and wrestled a six-week-old eaglet to its death. The footage was captured by the Xcel Energy Fort St. Vrain eagle nest live feed. The 24-hour surveillance footage was live-streamed on YouTube.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said that wildlife officer Mike Grooms responded to investigate 90 minutes after the attack.
“The camera showed a raccoon scaling to the top of the nest tree and grabbing the older, larger of the two eaglets from the nest around 7 p.m.,” the CPW statement reported. “Wildlife officer Grooms was able to collect what remained from the carcass and delivered it to CPW’s Wildlife Health Lab, where officials will submit it for testing of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.”
According to the Raptor Resource Project, the targeted chick, named FSV45, hatched on April 11, its smaller nestling hatched two days later, and a third egg didn’t hatch at all.
There is even a Facebook group dedicated to observing this particular nest. After CPW confirmed the kill, one user proclaimed “our sweet FSV45 is gone.”
The nest itself sits 57 feet above the ground. It takes one ballsy mesopredator to climb almost six stories to infiltrate a bald eagle nest. But raccoons are built to climb and scrap.
While raccoons are among the most likely mammalian predators of eagles, eagles also prey on raccoons. In fact, only a few days before, the live feed captures the mother eagle delivering a very young raccoon to the nest for food for the eaglets. It's a fascinating paradox of nature where predator is prey and prey is predator; a food chain with a loop.