Science & Environment

Hawk ‘Adopted’ By Eagle Dies

The story of an eagle household and hawk that many hoped could be an inspiring story of interspecies bonding has taken a tragic flip.

Tuffy, a feminine red-tailed hawk sharing a nest with an eagle household in California’s Santa Clara County, is useless.

In late May, chicken photographer Doug Gillard captured an image of a mom bald eagle carrying a small hawklet in her talons ― presumably to feed to her offspring.

About every week later. Gillard shared an optimistic update on Facebook. Rather than turning into lunch, the bird-napped chick appeared to have develop into a tentative member of the household, with the mom feeding her new hawk cost.

A bald eagle is bringing a fish to its nest the place two chicks are ready for food, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Manuel ROMARIS through Getty Images

The newly shaped interspecies household quickly started making headlines.

“This kind of raptor ‘adoption’ is a rare but known phenomenon,” Katie LaBarbera, science director for the San Francisco Bird Observatory, told the San Francisco Chronicle last month.

But specialists, together with LaBarbera, doubted how nicely issues would go. She feared that when the hawk grew to become a fledgling ― sufficiently old to start studying to fly however nonetheless depending on mother and father for food ― the eagle mother would develop suspicious.

She turned out to be precisely proper. The mom chicken started appearing considerably aggressively in the direction of Tuffy because the hawk grew. Eventually, the mom started violently stopping her from returning to the nest, making it tough for Tuffy to get the food she wanted.

Some followers of the saga clamored for a rescue, however such a mission posed sensible issues. A park ranger within the space the place the nest is situated told Gillard that human interference too near the nest might trigger the bald eagles ― a federally protected species ― to desert the nest web site.

“There is no legal path, and questionable moral justification, for interfering with the eagles and depriving them of prey they had caught,” Craig Nikitas of Bay Area Raptor Rescue told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

However, as soon as it was clear Tuffy was kicked out of the nest for good, Nikitas might receive the authorized authorization to seize her. He and Gillard and an area park ranger tried a rescue mission however couldn’t lure the chicken in time. Her emaciated body was in the end discovered on the bottom.

A young red-tailed hawk in Oregon.
A younger red-tailed hawk in Oregon.

GarysFRP through Getty Images

Raptor biologist David Bird told The Los Angeles Times that it’s extraordinarily frequent for birds of prey to die as fledglings.

“More than half of young raptors don’t make it through their first year of life,” he stated. “There’s so many things that could kill them: They could starve to death, they can get nailed by a predator, they could fly into a freight train, get caught up in wildfire, smoke, all kinds of things can happen.”

But most fledglings hadn’t captured the general public’s creativeness like Tuffy.

“I made every effort I could to help the hawk once authorization was granted to try to trap it,” Nikitas informed the CBC. “With all my heart, I wish it had been a success.”

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