Bald eagle sex: The acrobatic mating of America's national bird

The most famous and recognizable of these rituals is the “cartwheel courtship flight,” in which two bald eagles will fly up high, lock talons and then get into a cartwheel spin as they fall toward the ground, breaking apart at the last minute. “And [in] some cases they actually hit the ground,” Watts said.

It should be noted, however, that nonbreeding bald eagles may engage in this behavior antagonistically, as a kind of ritualistic battle.

A courting pair may also engage in a chase display, where they will chase each other before locking talons and doing aerial rolls.

Additionally, the birds may perform the “rollercoaster flight.” During this aerial display, one of the birds will essentially act like a rollercoaster — it will fly up high, go into a steep dive, pull up high again and dive down again.