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Eagles Raising Red-Tailed Hawk

Wildlife News


Hancock here:
Wow, Lynda and Ian really captured a great moment at an incredibly successful bald eagle nest near Victoria, British Columbia, near to our famous Sidney Nest of yesteryear!  This well known nest is not just producing 3 huge eaglets this year but on the side, and hopefully not a side-order, the family is also raising a red-tail chick.

Link to forum thread for this nest:

View video of feeding here:

We have a record of this at one of the Tsawwassen Buff nests about 10 years ago. The landowner in front of the nest recorded the parents bringing in a 'dead' adult red-tail from the adjacent red-tail territory only about 200 meters away.  It was believed that the dead or dying red-tail laid the egg that in turn was incubated by the eagles, along with their own two eggs.  I thought this was probably so unusual an event I was telling .....

an audience in Campbell River one day when a person piped up from the floor to tell me they had also had the same thing happen the previous year.     Incredible.

So now here we have another fine record from Lynda and Ian recorded in both still and video of the same situation.  Boy does that beg the question about really how common is this?  Are red-tails, which so commonly nest near bald eagles nest, regularly captured?  During the 1960s, when I was attempting to do aerial surveys to determine the number of eggs in bald eagle nests on southern Vancouver Island, I spotted what I thought was a cooper hawk carcass in an eagles' nest.  The following week I was asked to get a few sample eagle eggs for some of the earliest pesticide sampling.  I chose to go up that tree to both collect the egg but also confirm what the dead hawk species was.  It was a coopers hawk and I used that image for 30 years in my talks.

It also begs the circumstances of how these smaller and much more maneuverable raptors are caught by eagles.  I did see it happen in the late 1960s.  An ever so tolerant circling eagle was constantly being bombarded by a coopers hawk and after about 20 stoops by the hawk at the eagle's head, including knocking off a few feathers, the eagle simply did a well-timed barrel roll, reached up at the last but most appropriate moment and snatched the dive-bombing coopers hawk out of the air. Both disappeared over the horizon but I very much doubt that hawk did that again.

The case here that Lynda and Ian captured carries this all to quite another level.  First off, rearing 3 eaglets attests to how these parents must be wonderful hunters and the nesting territory very productive.  Obviously they must be bringing home enough food to reduce sibling rivalry to tolerable levels and even for a much smaller "foreign sibling" who was both fed and tolerated.  Wow.  Our eagles never seem to run out of adaptive options.

It will be interesting to follow this nest to see the final outcome.  Can this poor tiny relative survive and fledge among these 3 giants?  Time will tell.  What a nest to view.  Too bad we didn't have a CAM in this nest.  Any sponsors out there?

Thanks, Lynda and Ian, for sharing this and keeping us informed.


David Hancock

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