Inverted Eagle

“Ninja Eagle” If Bruce Lee were to be re-incarnated as an eagle this would be him. (Bit of a story to go with this one)

I have been watching and photographing eagles on the Nipigon River for five years now. Eagles are usually territorial and spread out over large areas based on available food. When an excess of available food presents itself (such as a salmon spawning run) they tend to congregate in large numbers in small areas. As such they need to develop social skills and a hierarchical system. The abundance of food means that each meal is no longer a life and death survival issue so they generally tolerate one another to a certain extent. They still seem to like to challenge one another though and one of their favourite games is to try and knock the other eagle off of the fish they happen to be feeding on.

An eagle feeding on the ground is at a huge tactical disadvantage to an incoming eagle in the air. The eagle on the ground knows this and the general rule is to put up a bit of a fuss, squawk a lot, and then get the h___ out of the way or you are going to get seriously hurt.

This particular eagle has figured out a unique defense to this problem. He would crouch down, precisely time the arrival of the incoming eagle, leap in to the air and go completely inverted to present his talons to the incoming eagle. Tactical advantage is now almost equal, the incoming eagle still has an airspeed advantage but our Bruce Lee eagle has the advantage of surprise. This seemed to work well for him, I watched him do this three times before getting this shot as it happens lightning fast.

Bruce would then finish his acrobatics by completing a somersault and land back on his feet, straighten his feathers and finish eating his lunch.

Look at the picture and realize that this eagle stands about 2 ½ feet tall and has a wingspan of about 7 feet. Look again (particularly at the wing feathers) and you can see that he appears to be able to control every feather individually in order to accomplish this pretty amazing maneuver.

Nature never ceases to amaze me……

Bald Eagle, Adult

Bald Eagle, Adult

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