Bald Eagles Raised An Orphan Hawk As Their Own, Even Though They’re Mortal Enemies

February 07, 2018

Adoption is one of the most amazing things in the world today and helps create a magnificent bond between those who so need it. Humans aren’t the only things on earth that are known to adopt others. Elephant seals and black bears are both known for adopting orphans who have lost their mothers.

Even though adoptions by these species are not unusual, what is highly unusual is when an animal adopts a member of a completely different species! Hawks and Eagles are known to be mortal enemies of each other, never wanting to spend time together and, in fact, are usually trying to kill each other, making what researchers discovered all the more shocking!

Researchers were keeping an eye on the nest of a Bald Eagle couple and were shocked when they spotted a baby Red Tailed Hawk peeking out from the nest. The young hawk, that researchers named Spunky, was being raised by the Eagles, alongside their own young.

When researchers first spotted the birds, they were sure it wouldn’t be long before the hawk would be killed by the Eagles. However, the Bald Eagles clearly did a good job raising their adopted Hawk. Although he is much smaller than his adopted siblings he is in great shape!

It appears that the Hawk had learned quite a few tricks from his adoptive parents, like eating fish, which is highly unlike the usual small mammal diet of a fish. He hasn’t forgotten all of his instincts, however, as he still does some of the usual Hawk behaviors - like practicing diving down to snag debris off the forest floor.

While the two species are normally mortal enemies, these Bald Eagles never let it stop them from doing their best to raise an orphan who just needed their help. This story should serve as a reminder to all of us that we should always look to help others whenever we can, even if they’re not quite our usual friends.