The city of Springfield, Illinois (like many others) has a Starling problem. Millions of these birds haunt the historic downtown area, leaving behind sidewalks on which few want to walk. The solution...James "the Bird Whisperer" Soules was hired for $164,000 to drive the birds away (he claims to never hurt or kill a healthy bird, use poison of any sort or use explosives...his technique is a trademarked, and much locally guffawed-at, secret). But even more fascinating (and locally laughed at) is an answer this octogenarian gave at a press conference of how and why he got into this business: When he was a child of two, a bald eagle swooped down on him near Decatur, Illinois and attempted to carry him away...a classic attempted avian abduction. Needless to say, Soules claim has brought a barrage of criticism upon himself and his contract.
Most ornithologists insist that such abduction scenarios are physically impossible. Eagles, they say, are simply not capable of lifting and flying with such weight. For anomalists, the first case that may come to mind is the attempted avian abduction of 10-year-old Marlon Lowe of Lawndale, Illinois. Witnesses insisted that a large bird lifted Lowe off the ground and carried him for dozens of feet before dropping him. A previous post of mine argued for the possibility of such avian abductions by listing 30 historic cases of such instances. Now I have uncovered new, difficult to dispute evidence:
The Article above was carried by the July 18th, 1937 edition of the Fresno Bee-The Republican out of Fresno, California. The startling story features Richard L'Estrange, a long-time Hollywood actor, director and producer from 1920-1956. Today, he is remembered for producing such movies as "Revenge of the Zombies", "Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat" and the reasonably-popular sci-fi TV series "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger".
But for me, the most important film he produced was a shocking, short clip featuring his infant daughter Jill and an eagle. An excerpt from the article shown here reads as follows:
"Recently, movie director Richard Le Strange [an alternative "Americanized" spelling he utilized early in his career], an ametuer naturalist, decided it was useless to wait until the savants settled the controversy as to the man-eating habits of the king of the birds, and made a test that was conclusive enough for him by casting his own 18-month-old daughter as "victim" in a harrowing sequence, partially depicted on this page [above]. The child was elaborately protected, so the bird never got more than a few feet off the ground with his "prey", but it was a relief when the child was safe again in its daddy's arms. The mere fact that the great bird was able to lift Jill Le Strange from the ground [as seen in the above photos] would seem to contradict the statements of Alexander Wetmore about the strength of the bird." While as a father, I cannot condone what L'Estrange did with his daughter (she also starred in another feature film he produced), but it is difficult to argue against the fact that large raptors are (or were...pre-1920) capable of carrying away toddlers...and who knows how much more?