Eagle parents give baby hawk special attention
SIDNEY, B.C. — A birder and wildlife photographer who’s been documenting the strange case of a baby red-tailed hawk being raised by eagles says the adopted little bird is acting like its eagle “siblings” and devouring fish.
Terry Venables said while red-tailed hawks aren’t known to be fish eaters, this baby hawk likes its fish and is thriving under the care of his much larger parents, who seem to be lavishing attention on the bird to which they’d normally be natural rivals.
“I would say a tiny per cent of what they eat is fish,” Venables said of hawks’ normal diet. ”I’ve seen them drop herring in, I’ve seen them come in with small salmon.”
The unusual story of the baby hawk in the care of eagles in Sidney, B.C., has captured the attention of birders around the world as Venables has been documenting it on his site naturalimagescanada.ca.
Venables said the “little eagle” was the first of the brood to fledge, or leave the nest, and of its three eaglet “siblings” only one is left to fledge. But while the babies are still returning to the nest for food, they will soon have to survive on their own.
“Mom and Dad kind of wean them off of food and eventually they’re on their own, which is frightening when you think of it because they’re really completely unprepared for the world.”
Venables said it will be interesting to see how it fares on his own.
“He’s done incredibly well. The parents have singled him out on many occasions and fed him first before the eaglets,” Venables said. “So he’s a miracle kid.”
How the hawk came to be in the eagles’ nest has been a topic of debate.
Some say the mother eagle may have brought it to feed to its eaglets, but then let mothering instincts take over. Others believe a hawk laid its eggs in the nest before the eagles arrived and the baby hawk was the only one of its siblings to survive before being adopted. (CFAX)
Sandy Hall, The Canadian Press