Biologists and bird enthusiasts alike have been monitoring one particular bald eagle’s nest in western Canada over the past couple of months.
The hawk chick, known by some as Spunky, has somehow managed to defy all odds and not only survive the encounter with the large eagles but thrive.
As natural enemies, smaller hawks such as red-tailed hawks are often on the menu for the bald eagle and many of those monitoring this unique situation believe this is how the hawk ended up inside the nest to begin with.
The nest, high atop a Douglas Fir tree inside the Shoal Harbor Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a protected bay near the eastern tip of Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. What’s puzzling is how the hawk managed to position itself as a friend not a foe. As many experts believe the chick was brought to the nest earmarked as a future meal for the eaglets, David Bird, director of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation believes the hawk simply staked his claim.
“My guess is that this little guy begged loud and hard for food—not even thinking about the danger,” Bird told the Vancouver Sun. “Food overrides everything in these birds. He begged away and mom and dad said, ‘OK, here’s an open, gaping beak. Let’s put food in it.'”
Making it through the initial period that many believed would be the end for the young hawk, the most recent observations from the site indicate the hawk is getting along just fine, albeit more like an eagle than anything else.
The dietary needs are stark in comparison between the two bird species as hawks tend to concentrate their efforts on small rodents while eagles with take to the waters in search of fish. It is this distinction in hunting methods that many believe will be the next hurdle the young hawk will have to clear to survive.
For the time being, Spunky seems to be holding his own. That said, many monitoring the bird are willing to step in should his condition worsen over time.