Wildlife volunteer Pam McCartney, told Canada’s CBC Radio One on Monday that the “adoption” happened earlier this month on Gabriola Island.
Ms McCartney said the bald eagle likely swooped down on a red-tailed hawk’s nest on the island on 4 June and flew away with the small bird.
While she expected the bald eagle to eat the baby hawk for its dinner, Ms McCartney said she instead witnessed the bird of prey drop the hawklet in its nest.
The extradonary moment was captured on a livestream run by GROWL, a non-profit whose mandate is to rescue and preserve the natural wildlife on Gabriola Island, about 33 miles west of Vancouver, British Columbia,
“Usually when I watch, like David Attenborough and his shows, I can close my eyes or fast forward or whatever, but this was live at the time, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh,” said Ms McCartney.
“She just kind of dropped it, you know, and it came alive. And [the] eaglet was just like, ‘What the heck, Mom? What is this? Why is it moving?’”
The two baby birds sat apart for a small while before Ms McCartney said the hawklet and the eagles became a small family – if not a strange one.
Wildlife biologist David Bird, a professor emeritus at Montreal’s McGill University, told CBC the “miracle” event was actually not a first for British Columbia and cited a similar situation from 2019.
“This bird likely came from a red-tailed hawk nest that was preyed upon by the adult bald eagles,” he told the radio station. “And the next thing you know, the little hawk bounces up and starts begging for food right away. That’s what saved its life.”
“I don’t think in my lifetime I would have believed I’d see that,” he admitted. “It’s quite a rare thing to see.”
Mr Bird said the GROWL cameras only cover a number of nests, which made the livestream more surprising.
“It’s similar to us,” said Ms McCartney of the eagle-hawk family, which she compared to the complexity of human relationships. “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.”