There’s no denying that nature can be cruel and, yet, it can also demonstrate the sort of kindness and inclusivity that humankind should strive to emulate.
Pam McCartney of Gabriola, British Columbia, volunteers for the wildlife organization Growls. She was monitoring the livestream of a family of bald eagles when she saw something that made her sit up and take notice. It started when the mother eagle, who had recently lost one of her two babies, brought a baby hawk back to the nest.
The baby red-tailed hawk had been scooped out of his own nest and plunked into an actual lion’s den. There was no doubt in Pam’s mind that the hawk was meant to be the eagle’s dinner, but instead of killing and eating it, the mother and baby eagle began to take care of it.
“She just kind of dropped it, you know, and it came alive,” Pam recalled. “And [the] eaglet was just like, ‘What the heck, Mom? What is this? Why is it moving?’”
To Pam’s astonishment, the baby hawk began to cry for food — and the cries were answered! Both mama eagle and her eaglet started to feed the baby hawk. Then, when the male eagle returned, he fed the hawk like it was one of his own.
By the end of the day, the birds had formed a new little family.
“In my mind of growing up on Disney, I’m seeing this eaglet think like, ‘Was this another little sibling?’” she said.
Ornithologist David Bird is a professor emeritus of wildlife biology at McGill University in Montreal. He says it’s extremely rare for an eagle to adopt a baby from another species. In fact, he’s surprised the baby bird survived being grabbed by the mother’s razor-sharp talons in the first place.
“I’ve had these on my fist,” he said. “I know what that feels like. And the next thing you know, the little hawk bounces up and starts begging for food right away. That’s what saved its life.”
David said the odds of this inter-species adoption happening were very slim, and the fact that it was all caught on camera adds an even more incredible twist. In fact, there’s only one other documented case of this happening.
“I don’t think in my lifetime I would have believed I’d see that,” he said. “It’s quite a rare thing to see.”
Pam has been thoroughly enjoying watching the new little family, and they seem to be getting along famously.
“It’s similar to us,” she said. “We’re not all conventional and we’re not exactly how everybody thinks we should be or we’re different — and we’re beautiful, and it’s beautiful.”
Pam is right; these eagles have the right idea! We could all learn a lot from observing Mother Nature in action.
Watch the livestream of this sweet animal family meeting for the first time below, and don’t forget to share.