California eagles brought baby hawk to nest as food, now they are raising it

A pair of eagle parents have adopted a baby red-tailed hawk they originally brought back to their next to eat.

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The baby hawk has yet to become a meal, and has been seen being fed by the parents alongside their two eaglets according to the Sacramento Bee.

Whether the little hawk will continue to be raised by the eagle family as one of their own or is just being fattened up remains to be seen.

“It’s certainly happened before, but it’s not common at all,” said Morro Coast Audubon Society Program Director Torrey Gage-Tomlinson of a hawk nestling being taken in by an eagle family. “It’s really rare for that to happen.

Gage Tomlinson and Kimberly Stroud, executive director of the Ojai Raptor Center, also confirmed the baby hawk looked like a red-tail, though it’s hard to tell at such a young age. The bird has a much smaller beak than the baby eagles and a fluffy, white head, and looks nothing like the eaglets.

Gage Tomlinson said that large predators like eagles and owls will sometimes raid the nests of other raptors lower on the food chain. But though it’s rare, sometimes their parental instincts kick in and they care for the little birds, the Sacramento Bee reported

Stroud said it will be interesting to see if the eagles keep the chick alive until it fledges.

Nature does not appear to be in the hawk’s favor.

Red-tail hawks grow feathers and start learning to fly after about 40 to 46 days, while eagles take about 12 weeks. While eaglets are immediately ready to fly, red-tail hawks stick around to be cared for by their parents for at least two weeks, and sometimes as much as 10 weeks Hawk Mountain said.

On the other hand, eagle parents withhold food from their fledglings and place food on nearby branches to encourage them to fly. The eagle fledglings remain close to the nest for a few weeks, however, according to

.Last year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that an eagle took two red-tailed hawk babies to its nest.

One of them was eaten by an adult eagle, and while the other was initially fed and cared for by the eagles, they eventually became aggressive toward the young hawk and it ultimately died after being injured and no longer fed..

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