Aug. 16—WEST NEWBURY — Newburyport resident Martin Daignault was on one of his typical bicycle rides last month on River Road when he saw what looked like two bald eagles stuck together in the Merrimack River.
Intrigued, he stopped pedaling and took out his camera. Upon closer look, the two birds of prey were not stuck but instead were brawling.
"Sure enough, there are two eagles together. They're not friends, they were fighting," Daignault said earlier this week.
For a moment, Daignault said he was tempted to enter the river and try to break up the fight. But common sense quickly prevailed.
"All I was thinking was they're doing what eagles do," he said.
Shortly thereafter, West Newbury police officials rescued an injured bald eagle and recovered another that died, both from around the same area.
Byfield wildlife rehabilitation expert David Taylor said Daignault did the correct thing by not stopping the fight. Those not trained to handle raptors can be seriously hurt should they get in the way of their talons.
"If they get ahold of you, it's going to be a serious issue," Taylor said, adding that raptors will sink their talons into flesh and not let go.
Taylor received the injured eagle and brought the bird to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. He also shared a recent photo of the bird showing scars on its left wing but appearing relatively healthy.
When the dead bird was found a few days later in about the same area, Taylor said it was likely it had been killed fighting another bald eagle.
On Monday, Taylor said knowing an eyewitness saw two bald eagles interlocked around the same time only raises that probability.
Dave Rogers is editor of the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.
Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.