One of the most spectacular scenes in nature to photograph is when a pair of Bald Eagles lock their talons mid air in what seems to be air to air combat. This fascinating display is also known as the “cartwheel” where the eagles will lock their talons, stop flying, and begin to fall towards the ground.
After a few seconds, the eagles then release from each other and either fly off or continue to pursue each other in a mid air battle. In May 2013, two Bald Eagles in Minnesota were unable to release their grip on each other and plummeted to the ground. Luckily, both eagles survived.
Why do Bald Eagles exhibit such potential dangerous behavior? There are several reasons that Bald Each lock talons in mid air.
- As a courtship ritual
- Fighting over food/fish. Bald eagles love to steal fish from each other.
- Protecting their territory
I took this photo sequence of two juvenile bald eagles locked in the cartwheel in Le Claire, Iowa.