VIDEO: Australian Eagle Takes Out Drone in Midair

By Carl Engelking | August 10, 2015 3:56 pm

(Credit: Screengrab from Melbourne Aerial Video/YouTube)

The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey, and it should strike fear into the heart of drone pilots everywhere.

While flying in the Australian bush, Adam Lancaster encountered the aerial predator, which was about 6 feet across from wing tip to wing tip. It’s unclear whether the bird was hungry or angry, but it took Lancaster’s drone out of the sky with ease.

Lancaster posted the video using the Melbourne Aerial Video alias on YouTube. Lancaster isn’t a professional drone photographer; rather, he uses Melbourne Aerial Video as his online portfolio to showcase his work. He’s currently looking to gain employment in drone photography and surveying services, however. Lancaster picked up a valuable lesson after his tango with an eagle.

“If you see a bird of prey while flying. Land. I have added this to my operating procedure,” Lancaster wrote in the video description.

He’s urging other pilots to avoid sharing the airspace with birds of prey. Predatory birds think the drone is either food or a threat, and they’ll attack. That means your pricey quadcopter could be destroyed, or you hurt the bird. In this case, the wedge-tailed eagle was fine after the encounter.

This isn’t the first time angry birds have cleansed the sky of our high-flying technology. A gang of birds dive-bombed this guy’s DJI Phantom a few years ago:

And geese, who are already hostile toward strangers that get too close, were not happy to see this DJI Phantom buzzing in their faces either.

Birds have ruled the skies for a lot longer than drones, and it appears they aren’t afraid to remind us of that fact.

MORE ABOUT: bird vs drone, drone
  • Michael

    I hope your drone didn’t harm that bird. If so at least you have identified yourself on social media as the person responsible for flying a drone in the area.

    • Adam Lancaster

      My parents live in this street and in 10 years we are lucky enough to see an eagle once to twice a year. We went for a fly their as it is open space away from people and property. The eagle flew in parrallel to us and landed in the tree – we paused for a moment considering what had just happened, and then that happened. We had no time to think – that said with my knowledge now, i will be landing as soon as i see an eagle with no hesitation. There was no nest there either.

      • Emkay

        drone well, drone on, and prosper…

    • Emkay

      give him a drone ticket for collision with bird…

  • Brett Champion

    That was pretty awesome.

    On a related note. I used to live in Pittsburgh, and there are places in Pittsburgh where you can stand on the middle of a bridge over a hollow and watch hawks circle above looking for squirrels, chipmunks, other birds, etc. Watching them swoop down on something is pretty amazing.

  • Ben

    I now realized the natural enemy of drones. Maybe, NJ/NY airports complaining of rampant drones intrusion in their air space should train birds like this to catch those drones in the air to be confiscated or destroyed like what this bird of prey did. This is awesome I learned something a lot…

  • Rosemary Heeler

    I am very doubtful that the “…eagle is fine” as the video suggests

    • elbows in assholes

      A bird with a six foot wing span against a AAA powered RC blender? I’m sure the bird is A-Okay…

      • Rosemary Heeler

        I’m not anti-drone and don’t want to sound confrontational .
        . .but, I’m 6’2” 200lbs and a small drones propeller lightly grazed my hand
        resulting in deep laceration, major blood loss, emergency room visit and 22
        stitches . . . even when equipped with ‘guards’, those small but sharp blades
        turning at high rpms are lethal . . .just say’in!

    • Adam Lancaster

      Hi – This is my footage. The eagle was fine – she ‘punched’ it out of the sky and continued to circle overhead at around 10m – My brother and I got a really good look at her she was fine. There was also no sign of eagle damage on the drone – the drone was damaged by hitting the ground and should be up and going with $200 of parts.

      • Rosemary Heeler

        Good to know the bird was ok….I wasn’t being critical. Birds fly into jet engines, windmills, etc….accidents happen! Looks like you fly in remote areas to capture nice video. I know lots of drone pilots and unfortunately lots of accidents will be accompanying the growth of this industry…that’s the price of new, evolving technology (unfortunately, many ‘accidents’ will be a result of pure stupidity as well). Have fun, be safe.

      • Guy

        Thanks for letting us know…and cool Vid!

      • Matthew Slyfield

        “The eagle was fine”

        It may have been uninjured, but that doesn’t mean that it was fine. I would be willing to bet that it was quite miffed over missing out on lunch. :)

  • ‘Stan Waters

    Drones could be a lot of fun but not for me. I can’t even program my remote on the TV let alone fly one of these so birdies, you’re safe in my neighbourhood.

  • Maia

    I can hardly believe the hype and constant exposure around drones. Who is buying these expensive toys, when most of us have all we can handle paying for a car or even a really good bike?
    I am truly tired of every issue of Discover including an article about them, when there are so many more important issues.

    • Doug Huffman

      US$50 HUBSAN

  • openreels

    Score a few for the birds! Let’s not forget, birds are not stupid but they do have some instinctive behaviors that might be aroused by a drone.

    I agree, the relentless hype about “drones” of all types is silly, and there will be more accidents of all sorts as this continues. The news is already reporting consumer drones flying into objects and people, creating problems for firefighters, etc. It’s tricky enough that they are being deployed for various government and professional uses. Why do average people need these things???

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Note in the last video, it’s not just the geese, the golfers weren’t particularly happy to have the drone hovering around close enough that they could grab it. The operator is lucky one of the golfers didn’t decide to take a golf club to it.

    • Terrymac

      The drone operator is one of the golfers! Obviously they want to be filmed so why would they “decide to take a golf club to it”?

      • Matthew Slyfield

        It looked to me like one of the golfer’s took a swing at it. Just because the operator was one of the group, that doesn’t mean that everyone in the group was happy about it. Maybe the drone operator spoiled a shot on him by getting too close with the drone.

  • Kathleen Sisco

    Yes the hype is saturating. But as we all know we went thru this with cel phones. We have absolutely no defense against media hype. Whatever we are directed to buy we do.

  • Jessy Grayson

    I have a drone with a cam. My father ordered it on (it’s cheap I checked). And I love to make a video with it help. But as I know birds usually scared of it ’cause it make a noise and even my cat afraid.



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