A Bald Eagle catches a fish from a small Montana lake. The progression is shown in 0.2 second intervals, and from beginning to end is 0.8 (eight tenths) of a second. (Note cards available here.)
Behind the lens.
As a biologist, I spent years monitoring Bald Eagles in Glacier National Park. I've seen Eagles catch fish and ducks many times, but it always happens so fast that I can never tell exactly how they do it. So I imagined this sequential photograph for a long time, in the back of my mind, before I was actually able to document the event with a camera.
Like most birds, Eagles fly with their feet and legs held tight to the body for aerodynamic reasons. As they stoop on a prey item, the legs rotate forward and the talons extend, hitting the fish with force and locking down. As they start to fly away, they'll often turn the fish around head-first, again, for aerodynamic reasons. It's a beautiful sequence that's been perfected by countless generations of Bald Eagles -- and it happens in the blink of an eye.