SEATTLE — Two bald eagles were seen fighting for hours in the backyard of a Seattle home on Sunday.
Pictures and video show the eagles grasping onto each other with their talons outside of a home in the Meadowbrook neighborhood. Kim McCormick, who submitted the photos to KING 5, said the birds began fighting outside her neighbor's home around 6 p.m. and stop until 11 p.m.
The fight was likely a territorial dispute between two male or female birds, according to PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager Emily Meredith.
It's not uncommon for bald eagles to be caught in a fight for anywhere from three to five hours, Meredith said. However, disputes don't commonly resort to physical fighting between birds.
"Usually, the eagles do a lot of posturing and communicating without engaging with each other to try to say, this is my territory, go away," Meredith said.
When eagles do fight, they can grasp onto each other in mid-air and then fall to the ground.
2 bald eagles caught fighting outside Seattle home
"In territorial disputes sometimes they just will not let go, and it's a sign of weakness for the guy to let go so they just hold on until the very end," Meredith said.
For anyone who comes across two bald eagles fighting, PAWS recommends that they monitor from a distance. The birds can become more agitated the closer humans get, causing them to grasp each other more tightly. If birds are grasped together for eight to 10 hours, or one bird isn't moving after they have disengaged, Meredith recommends calling PAWS.
"We have had them brought in together and we've had to anesthetize them to get them off of each other because they're so tightly grasping," Meredith said.
PAWS has received more reports of bald eagles fighting as the population has bounced back from being endangered.
"I think people are seeing it more and more as they fight for the prime territory to nest and forage," Meredith said.
PAWS is treating bald eagles on a more regular basis and has been successful in healing injuries the birds may sustain from territory fights, including puncture wounds, internal injuries, or bite wounds and releasing them back into the wild.
For people who have found a wild animal and are not sure if they should intervene, PAWS introduced an online guide that can help people decide if they should reach out to a wildlife rehabilitator or let nature take its course.