If you’ve never seen a bald eagle swoop down to attack a grizzly bear (like most of us), brace yourself because you’re about to.
Captioned perfectly as “Bald eagle swoops down and hits grizzly bear in the face,” the encounter was filmed on the Naknek River by fisherman Bill Shawler. As his one-in-a-million footage shows, the experienced angler was boating along the Naknek when a grizzly started traversing the shoreline alongside. A pro, Shawler kept fishing as he filmed the behemoth bruin.
No one, including the stunned bear, expected a bald eagle to appear out of nowhere – swoop down talons a’blazing – and attempt to gouge out the bruin’s eyes. It happens in a flash, but Shawler slows down the encounter to show the eagle’s bullseye hit and the sheer size of the baldie in general. Take a look:
Bald eagle swoops down and hits grizzly bear in the face. Naknek River, Alaska, August 2010.Bill Shawler
The footage ends shortly after, so there’s no way to know if this poor grizzly lost an eye in the encounter. But if the eagle landed a direct hit, it’s likely.
Bald eagle talons are 1.5 to 2 inches long on average, and are hooked at the exact-right angle to gouge into prey (or foe, as this grizzly learned). 2 inches may not seem like much, but that’s on top of the eagle’s already enormous foot, which can be the same size as a human hand.
Sexual dimorphism (difference in size between males and females) is also present in the species, and female baldies grow considerably larger than males. The same goes for their talons, with some females sporting talons that well-exceed 2 inches in length.
In Short: Even a Grizzly Bear Doesn’t Want a Bald Eagle Divebombing Them
Grizzlies are no slouches when it comes to claws, either. In fact, they have some of the largest in the animal kingdom.
On each already massive paw, grizzly bears have five long claws that help them forage, dig, defend themselves, and attack others. Each claw is anywhere from 2 to 4 inches long. And again, nature always has room for behemoths, with some claws measuring a whopping five inches.
Neirher species is the largest of their families, however. For bald eagles, this is the enormous Philippine eagle (in wingspan) and Steller’s sea eagle all around. Harpey Eagles are the largest in the Americas, and are also considered the most powerful on the planet.
As for bears, the polar bear has the brown bear (grizzlies) family beat out as the largest ursine species on Earth. A large male grizzly will stand around 8-feet-tall, whereas a typical adult male polar bear is an astounding 10-feet-tall.