Bald eagle injured while possibly trying to mate in Lino Lakes

Two eagles engaged in a "cartwheel display" in Minnesota. In this case, one is an adult and the other is a juvenile. (Photo by Kyle Van Galder, courtesy of the National Eagle Center.)

Two bald eagles were possibly engaged in courtship or fighting above Lino Lakes Monday evening when things got a little out of hand, and they crashed to the ground, according to police.  

Witnesses saw the two eagles "locked together in flight" before they spiraled downward and crashed on an asphalt lot, according to a Facebook post from the Lino Lakes Police Department. 

One of the two eagles flew away, but the other sustained an injury to its wing. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources transported the bird to the University of Minnesota's Gabbert Raptor Center for treatment. 

Ed Hahn, Marketing Manager at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, said Lino Lakes police were correct in describing the two possible scenarios for why the eagles were locked in flight at this time of year: they were likely either engaged in a courtship called a "cartwheel display," or they were fighting.

Hahn explained that during a "cartwheel display" two Eagles will lock talons while flying high and then spiral toward the ground in what experts believe is a display of strength and flying skill.  

"When they're grasping those talons, that's a really tight grip, and the theory is if you're doing that and you let go too soon, you might be signaling to a potential mate that, you're not as bold or strong as maybe you need to be to raise young successfully. So that could be a bad signal" he said "Of course, the other extreme is that you don't pull out of that maneuver in time and you careen into the ground and either severely injured or kill yourself."

Hahn pointed out that it is currently nesting season in Minnesota, and it was also possible that the two eagles started fighting when one got too close to the other’s nest. 

"The other possibility is you might have had two eagles in a territorial dispute, but, not speaking eagle or being able to interview them, we're not going to be able to know with 100% certainty what happened there," he said.  


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