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Watch Two Bald Eagles Spiral Toward the Ground in a Terrifying Mating Ritual

Wildlife have many different mating rituals, but some of the most fascinating are among birds. Birds seem to grab everyone’s attention, whether that’s elegant dances or displays of large feathers. Bald eagles go a step further by locking their talons and spinning seemingly uncontrollably toward the ground, only to bail at the last second.

Recently, a wildlife photographer captured the courtship.

It’s almost like acro-yoga, but these birds are plummeting toward the earth instead of being safely on the floor.

Photographer Tohid Azimi captured the video. He says the move is called a “daredevil cartwheel.” Wildlife officials also call it a “cartwheel courtship flight,” and it’s very much real. 

While the act is common between two mating birds, bald eagles also use it when fighting for territory. It’s essentially a game of chicken, and sometimes the birds do not bail out. The end result could be slamming into the ground. 

According to the University of Illinois’ Wildlife Medical Clinic, this is just one of many wild acts that bald eagles perform. Another is called a “roller coast flight,” where one bird will launch into the sky, only to make a sharp u-turn and veer back down. The bird then repeats the act. Finally, eagle pairs will work together to build a nest, almost like building a home. The vast majority of bald eagles mate for life, and they’ll often reuse the same nest year after year.

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