Bald eagles found talon-locked in Shakopee being nursed back to health [PHOTOS]

Talk about keeping your enemies close...

Talk about keeping your enemies close...

Two bald eagles found injured with their talons locked together in a Shakopee yard Monday afternoon following a fight are being nursed back to health at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.

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Asked why the birds were going at it, Julie Ponder, executive director of the Raptor Center, said it was probably a territorial dispute.

"Probably one of the birds was on the other's territory, and when they do these aerial interactions they present their greatest weapon," Ponder says, referring to their talons. "There are locking mechanisms in their legs that are very useful for clamping down on prey, but they can get tangled or talon-locked where they are basically just holding on to each other."

"Most of the time they will separate long before hitting the ground, but in this case they just got tangled up," Ponder says.

An image of the locked eagles, along with pleas for help, quickly spread across Twitter Monday evening:
-- Lindsay Guentzel (@LindsayGuentzel) March 18, 2014 Ponder said she wasn't sure if the tweets brought the issue to the Raptor Center's attention -- they were receiving phone calls about it, too -- but before long a staff member and her conservation officer husband were dispatched to Shakopee on a rescue mission. They were able to separate the eagles, put them in crates, and transport them to the Raptor Center.

"They're doing okay," Ponder says. "They were both in good physical condition before they started the fight, but both have some significant tissue wounds."

"Sharp talons can do a lot of damage," she says, adding that eagles generally don't fight to the death. "Having seen a number of territorial fights, these guys were pretty evenly matched."

The birds were also found to have lead poisoning, which is actually quite common along eagles.

"Thirty percent of eagles that come in here have it," Ponder says. "The most common source is spent ammunition from deer hunting. Eagles scavenge, and we'll see a bird that ate something with lead fragments in it."

Ponder said the birds are eating well and being given medication at the donation-funded Raptor Center. They'll be reevaluated for possible release next week.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]