We've all heard about the predator becoming the prey. But what happens when the prey becomes ... the new baby of the family?
That's happened in Sidney, British Columbia. Two bald eagles residing in a fir tree have apparently adopted a baby red-tailed hawk instead of eating it and feeding it back to their eaglets. This kind of of cross-species adoption in the wild is exceedingly rare, according to experts.
"I know it's been documented two or three times sort of in the history of science," David Bird of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, a group that is monitoring the nest, told CTV.
Bird theorized that the adult eagles likely snatched up the baby hawk with the intention of feeding on it, but that the hawk, not knowing the danger it was in, started begging for food. The mother eagle's parenting drive kicked in — it's raising its own young, after all — and she started feeding the hawk. You can see it in the video above, shot about a week ago.
The hawk, roughly half the age and a quarter of the size of the eaglets, may have been granted a reprieve. But that doesn't mean it's still not on the menu later.
"The thing is with birds and most wildlife, there aren't any emotional attachments in these situations. Those eaglets do not regard this little hawk as their brother or sister," Bird explained. "So if for some reason things get a little tight in the nest in terms of food, one of those eaglets gets hungry, they're going to look at this little hawk and say, 'I'm bigger than you, you're weaker than me and I'm going to just squeeze the life out of you and start eating you.'"
As of right now, the baby hawk is OK. Fingers — and feathers — crossed that these eagles continue to defy their nature.
The Hancock Wildlife Foundation started daily live streams of the nest this week to let everyone monitor the hawk's progress.