The wild bald eagles featured below have welcomed a very unlikely member into their family – a baby hawk! How awesome is that?

The young red-tailed hawk was first spotted in May in the eagles’ nest along with their babies. The eagles think of him as their own and he has been thriving under their care.

Researcher David Hancock from the Hancock Wildlife Foundation has been keeping a close eye on this family. His theory is:

“I think the hawk was picked up by the eagles as potential food and brought back to the nest,” Hancock told The Dodo. “That’s not an unheard-of event.”

But rather than feeding the little hawk to their kids, the eagle parents apparently had a change of perspective.

“It’s a great biologically rooted question. If an eagle has two of her own babies in the nest, why does she not feed one to the other? Obviously, there’s some mechanism there that prevents it,” said Hancock. “It could be that the baby hawk is similar enough in appearance, or it made a begging sound that triggered the nurture response. It’s an interesting concept.”

Hancock calls it a “lucky break” for the hawk.

The baby eagles don’t mind sharing their nest or food with their new feathered sibling either.

“The hawk is not being browbeaten. There’s no sibling rivalry. The eaglets are kind of nice to it,” says Hancock. “It’s unbelievable!”

Baby red-tailed hawks leave their parents’ nest sooner than baby bald eagles do.

The baby hawk will fledge in about a week. But since fledgling hawks generally need lots of help from their parents at first, they are a little unclear about his future. But Hancock says he plans to be there when the hawk tumbles to the ground after the first attempt at flight, so he can take him to a facility where he’ll learn the skills he needs to survive.


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