When you watch the wildlife shows on tv, an eagle fight is usually shown mid-air and it looks elegant, and more like they’re playing. The reality is far from that. A fight is exactly that, whether it be over territory or food. Their talons can do a lot of damage – punctures in the body, loss of an eye, blood everywhere. And that’s just the talons! Add in trees and other brush and now you add in the possibility of broken bones or, perhaps, a neck.
Now you have a better picture of an eagle fight.
Yesterday Vince and I witnessed two eagles fighting. We were in some trees and could see eagles soaring overhead. Another eagle was screaming, which is what caught our attention. This eagle was perched in a tree. As we looked up, two of the eagles switched the formation of their wings and both were circling faster and picking up speed. [A soaring eagle has its wings outstretched, catching thermals and generally just looking at the world. An eagle on a mission (after food, defending territory) has a different profile.] No more than 100 feet from us above the tree tops, they collided and talons grasped talons. They were spiralling around and crashed into one of the tall pines, falling through the branches, still together, until they were about 10 feet from the ground, then breaking and flying in different directions. Helluva noise all that was, from screeching to the crashing in the tree. It was an “oh wow” moment, and it also had a moment of fear for me…what if one was severely injured? Could crazy bird lady assist while we called for help from WildARC (www.wildarc.com)?
Right after that it looked like one was moving off and the other giving a brief chase.
We continued to walk until we were right under the one in the tree that had been screaming earlier. It had at its feet, over a large branch, a dead seagull. I then watched the other eagle land in the nest. Two (not one!) eagles were seen flying away in the distance.
The fight could have been about food, or it could have been about territory as there is a pair that returns each year to the same nest, or it could have been about both.