This appears to be just a photo of an eagle, right? it's not even a very good photo of an eagle doing nothing of any interest. But this eagle did what to us was a very remarkable thing.
While out trolling yesterday we noticed this eagle fly over, circle, and then make a long swoop down to the water, extend his (or her) talons, and grab something from the water. We couldn't tell what it was, only that the eagle was grasping it in one foot as it struggled to fly to shore.
Whatever it was was pretty heavy as the eagle couldn't climb more than a foot or two above the surface. Finally, about halfway to shore, the eagle gave up and landed in the water. We could see its white head above the water as it thrashed about but it appeared that it would soon sink.
We hauled up our trolling gear as fast as we could and started in toward the eagle which was still struggling in the water but seemed to be sinking lower. The plan we put together as we headed in was if the eagle was still afloat when we reached it to scoop it up in our large landing net. While their wingspan is as much as six feet, we knew the body would fit in the net.
No way were we going to bring the bird into the boat as Lord only knows what kind of damage it could do to us and itself as it struggled to free itself from the net and get away from us. So we figured we'd simply support it in the water as the boat continued to shore.
Once there we figured I could get out of the boat and carry the bird to shore at which point I'd put the net down and let the bird free itself.
It was a plan we never had to execute.
As we headed into shore the bird began to "swim" by literally doing the breast stroke with its wings. It wasn't flapping them, but was shouldering them forward and then sweeping them back in the water. We kept heading in but the eagle needed no help from us. As we watched, the bird made it to the shallows and then dragged itself out of the water, still holding the fish in its talons. It stood there for a few minutes as though catching its breath, and then dragged the fish higher on the rocks and started to eat it. About ten minutes later, the eagle took off, circled to gain altitude, and headed off over the forest, apparently none the worse for its Olympic swim team tryout.
I have no idea if this is normal or regular behavior for eagles, but it's the first time we've ever seen one do it.