ORLANDO, Fla. - Two bald eagles were freed after being stuck in a drainage ditch on Thursday over several hours in Orlando, according to Orange County Fire Rescue.
One bald eagle was able to fly away after about an hour into the incident, but the second eagle was rescued an hour later by specialists from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey.
Law enforcement worked to get the the eagles out from the ditch on Goldenrod and Curry Ford Roads starting just before 5 p.m.
The birds were spotted with one bald eagle on top of the other with its wings spread.
Originally, there was speculation that the bird on top could be protecting its mate, but Dianna Flynt from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey said that couldn't be further from the truth.
She said it's currently eagle nesting season and she believes the eagles got into a fight when one bird got into the other bird's territory.
"What we have is a fight going on, and they fight unbelievably to the battle but hopefully not to the death," Flynt said.
She believes the fight started in the air when one eagle flew into the other's territory. It's likely the two birds got stuck while in the air and then fell into the drain.
Flynt said the first task for officials would be to get the bird that was on top unattached from the other, but that bird flew away at about 5:54 p.m. Prior to that, it had hardly moved a feather during the hour-long incident.
The second bird was freed around 6:20 p.m. Officials had to reach into the drain and pull the bird, believed to be a female, out. Once it was free, rescuers covered the bird with a blanket and put it in a box so it could be transported.
The eagle still needs to be assessed for injuries, but Flynt said in this case it's likely the eagle will have puncture wounds, which is usually what happens when eagles fight.
The bird debacle caused traffic to back up along Goldenrod and Curry Ford during rush hour traffic. Law enforcement asked drivers to use Semoran Boulevard as an alternative route.
The American bald eagle is the national bird and animal of the U.S. and is a federally protected bird.