Wings spread wide and necks drawn tall, two egrets square up to each other in a tense moment before the vicious birds attack.
The rare moment of calm did not last long as the birds bit at each other with their sharp, pointed beaks in mid-air.
The feisty egrets were engaged in a turf war over a fertile salt marsh in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, USA.
But the deadly fight ended when one egret surrendered allowing the other to rule over the well-earned turf.
Despite this, the losing bird stubbornly refused to leave the area.
Phil Lanoue, 58, who lives mere metres from the salt marshes in Huntington Beach State Park, managed to capture the exciting altercation.
He said: "The birds seemed to be having an argument as to who should get the best fishing ground in the area.
"The row quickly escalated into an airborne display of egret supremacy.
"They got themselves into a bit of a territorial dispute over who gets to fish in that section of the marsh.
"It was as though they had decided the area wasn't big enough for the both of them.
"Although the initial winner seemed to be the one who grabbed the other egret in a firm beak lock, they both stayed in the general area and continued on with their day of fishing."