hat's got to hurt!  This bald eagle took a bit of a battering as a rival clawed his beak in a fierce airborne fight. Credit: Stan Rife/Solent News These two eagles got into it over a fish. Credit: Stan Rife/Solent News

This bald eagle took a bit of a battering as a rival clawed its face in a fierce airborne fight. The white-headed birds of prey grappled with each other in a scuffle over fish that escalated into a tense battle.

Photographer Stan Rife, 55, watched the feathers fly during the scrap near Great Salt Lake, located in northern Utah.


Photographer's view

“I’d say 99.9 percent of fights [between eagles] are over fish. One eagle will land and start to feast on a catch, and then another will come and try to steal it away,” says wildlife photographer Stan Rife.

Rife, who was about 150 feet away from the battling birds, said: “I stayed at a distance as eagles are cautious and won’t hesitate to fly off if they spot you. Even from where I was photographing, I could definitely hear a pretty loud thud or thump as the eagles made contact. On a clear quiet morning out there, the noise echoes across the water to you.”

Bald eagle facts

Wingspan: Up to 90 inches.
Feathers: Bald eagles have about 7,000 feathers.
Speed: About 35 miles per hour in flight and up to 100 miles per hour in a hunting dive.
Symbol: Adopted in 1782 as part of the national coat of arms. Benjamin Franklin was against the move due to the bird’s roguish behavior.