I think that most everyone who has an interest in wildlife knows that when a bald eagle sees an osprey flying with a fish the bald eagle will chase and harass the osprey and get it to drop the fish (which the eagle then dives for and catches). The osprey gives up at this point so it can live and fish another day.
What people may not be as aware of is that bald eagles do this to each other too and if one loses the fish it doesn’t give up. The aerial dog fights can go on for a long time and they can be quite spectacular. Changes of possession can become numerous because when one dives on the other the one with the fish usually opens its talons to defend itself and loses the fish in the process. This results in a dive by both eagles to be the first to catch the falling fish. It gets even ore interesting when the fight takes place where numerous eagles gather. They all get involved.
I’ve seen some interesting things happen in these dogfights. I’ve seen one or both crash into the water. Sometimes they can get airborne from the water, but sometimes they can’t and they then try to get to land. If they don’t make it to land before hypothermia, they die.
This is one of the more unusual photos I’ve taken of bald eagles fighting. One eagle has his talons into the upper tail of the other and is flying along carrying the other, but they are losing altitude. Sorry, I don’t remember how it ended.