Tossing a violent rivalry aside, two bald eagles have adopted a baby red-tailed hawk.
Canadian bird-watchers were shocked to see that a red-tailed hawk was hanging out in the same nest as two bald eagles and their three young eaglets in British Columbia. They then came up with two possible ways such a strange occurrence could have happened.
The first theory suggests that the eagles may have raided a nearby hawk nest and stolen the baby hawk, bringing it back to their nest.
“My guess is that this little guy begged loud and hard for food — not even thinking about the danger,” scientist David Bird said. “Food overrides everything in these birds. He begged away and mom and dad said, ‘OK, here’s an open, gaping beak. Let’s put food in it.'”
The second theory proposes that the hawk was actually hatched in the eagle nest, and the eagles decided to keep it. Apparently, it’s not uncommon for hawks to attack eagle nests, and “if the attacking red-tail, egg in oviduct, did get carried back to the nearby eagle nest it is not unlikely that either in the death throws or upon being torn apart (less likely in my experience!) the egg got deposited into the eagle nest,” said David Hancock of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation.
Either way, the eagles seem to be taking care of the baby hawk and raising it alongside their own.
“This little red-tailed chick is sharing the nest with three fast growing, usually aggressive siblings,” Hancock said. “Sibling rivalry and fratricide is not uncommon in eagles.”