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Science

Incredible video shows a baby hawk nearly becoming eagle food. It becomes family instead.

Being adorable is a fantastic defense mechanism.

baby hawk, eagles, eagle adopts hawk

One of these things is not like the other.

Sometimes, life can unexpectedly snatch you away from safety and thrust you into imminent danger. Other times, life can just as quickly turn a dire circumstance into a heartwarming miracle.

Such was the case for a baby hawk who went from being dinner to being adopted by a family of bald eagles near the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada. The amazing moment was captured by a 24-hour livestream webcam run by GROWLS, a nonprofit organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife.

The video shows the seemingly doomed baby hawk being tossed into an eaglet’s nest. Pam McCartney, a GROWLS volunteer who had been watching the livestream at the time, braced herself.

"Usually when I watch, like, David Attenborough and his shows, I can close my eyes or fast forward or whatever, but this was live at the time, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh," she told CBC.

Much to her surprise, nature seemed to have something else in mind.


The baby hawk had inexplicably survived the eagle’s talons, which in itself was an extraordinary feat according to ornithologist and Professor Emeritus of Wildlife Biology at Montreal's McGill University, David Bird, who shared the story on a segment of the radio show “As It Happens.” Yes, a guy who studies birds has the last name Bird. It’s too perfect.

In an even rarer phenomenon, the hawkling was spared by both the mother and baby eagle once they realized it was alive and moving around. McCartney shared that by that evening both chicks were being cared for. Her guess is that it might have something to do with the eagle family having recently lost one of the two eaglets.

"In my mind of growing up on Disney, I'm seeing this eaglet think like, ‘was this another little sibling?'" she told CBC.

As mind boggling as it is, this is not the first hawk adoption story to hit the area. In 2017, a young red-tailed hawk, nicknamed Spunky, made headlines after being raised by a pair of bald eagles.

Bird told CBC that, while Spunky did require support from an extended family of scientists (primarily because hawks and eagles feed on different prey), it was still ultimately a success. Spunky is “alive and well,' which is a good omen for this new baby hawk.

So far, the birds are one big, happy family, McCartney reports, with plenty of “raptor kisses” for everyone.

hawk eagle nest, video hawk eagle adoption

Behold! A hawk-eagle!

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Families really do come in many different shapes and sizes, all across the food chain.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

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