Bald Eagles Adopt Infant Red-Tailed Hawk In California

Bald eagle and hawk
Jann Nichols

Adoption is always an option.

Two bald eagles in California definitely thought so when they took in an infant red-tailed hawk as their own, though that might not have been the plan initially. Photographers in Santa Clara County first captured photos of one of the Bald eagle carrying the baby hawk into their nest, and presumed that it was doing so in order to consume it as a meal.

However, in a classic case of “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” the bald eagles ended up leaving the small red-tailed hawk alone once they got it into their nest, and even started to act as its parents.

In a shocking turn of events, the pair of bald eagles took in and cared for the baby hawk just as they did with their eaglet that was already in the nest. Wildlife photographers in the area made it a point to return to the nest to get updated pictures from time to time, and soon found out that the bald eagles were feeding both the eaglet and the infant hawk with prey they hunted down and brought back.

Though no one knows how or why the bald eagles took in the small hawk, a hopeful onlooker would probably go with the story that the hawk was abandoned and in need of parents.

Bald eagles have been known to step in and take care of young that aren’t their own. There was even a viral story from a couple of years back where a male bald eagle started caring for a rock that it thought was an egg.

If you asked these bald eagles if they were comfortable being step-parents, they’d likely respond by saying that they were just the parents that stepped up. Is there a chance that the bald eagle parents had no idea they were taking care of a hawk baby and thought it was an eaglet, or possibly their eaglet? Yes, that is something that can’t be ruled out.

But are we going to ride with the version of the story that showcases kindness and taking care of others? Yes, we sure are. You can view some of the remarkable photos of the “blended bird” family in the video below:

Here’s more footage:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock