Gregg Thompson recently photographed a pair of Bald Eagles tangling talons in a rural area outside Seattle. In an act of aggression, the eagles fly high up in the air, lock talons, and spin toward earth, releasing one another just before they hit the ground. If you think this is dizzying, consider how the eagles feel -- Gregg counted 3.5 rotations! (This is a simulation.)
Eagles are monogamous, and pairs may remain intact year after year. It's hard to know for certain, because the species is hard to capture to color-band or radio-tag. Pairs can engage in courtship displays like this on their breeding or wintering grounds. In the northern part of their range, Bald Eagles lay a clutch of eggs in March, but resident eagles in Florida can start incubating as early as October. Listen to BirdNote shows about Bald Eagles.
Here is the sequence of Gregg's images of this fascinating display.
All photos are © Gregg Thompson and may not be used without permission.