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Bald eagles adopt baby red-tailed hawk

UPI – Bird watchers in California, United States are keeping tabs on an unusual avian family after a pair of bald eagles started to raise a red-tailed hawk baby alongside their own eaglet.

Jann Nichols, a contributing editor on the Friends of the Redding Eagles Facebook page, said a photographer snapped a picture of an eagle bringing a hawklet to its nest in May and initially believed the baby bird was meant to be prey for the larger bird’s own young.

The photographer returned a week later and was shocked to see two baby hawks being fed and cared for by the eagle couple alongside their own eaglet.

Nichols started making weekly trips to observe the family in Santa Clara County. She said one of the baby hawks died of unknown causes in early June, but the eagle parents have continued to raise the other hawklet. Nichols said the hawk appeared to fall from the nest on one occasion, but was rescued by the mother eagle.

Birders dubbed the hawklet Tuffy 2 in honour of Tuffy, red-tailed hawk previously adopted by eagles in Redding, California.

David Hancock, an eagle biologist based in British Columbia, said he is aware of only three previous cases of eagle parents adopting a baby bird of another species.

Bald eagles adopt hawk baby alongside their own eaglet. PHOTO: DOUG GILLARD