By Jack Williams
In a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for wildlife photographers, a pair of bald eagles have adopted a hawk chick – usually a bitter rival.
The incredible scenes have seen the eagle family feeding the chick as if it were one of their own, attracting the attention of the science and bird-watching communities.
According to one eagle biologist, the chances of finding a red-tailed hawk in an eagle’s nest, like in Shoal Harbor Migratory Bird Sanctuary, British Colombia, Canada, is around one-in-ten-thousand.
News of the rare occurrence began to spread in early June.
Since then, viewers have theorised over how the chick managed to get to the nest – and simply whether or not it will survive.
Theories for how the hawk joined the family have ranged from the eagles targeting the chick as prey to having been snatched as an egg.
In recent days, renowned photographer and videographer Christian Sasse has been capturing scenes from the sanctuary.
As well as the eagle parents, the hawk is accompanied in the nest by three larger bald eagle chicks.
Red-tailed hawks usually leave their nests around 40 days after hatching, and with the chick having been in the nest for around four weeks, onlookers are curious as to what will happen next.
Christian said: “This is of course a one-in-a-lifetime experience, the reason why I dedicated so much of my time to this event.
“I was lucky as the angle to the nest with my big lens was good, including light conditions.
“The eagles were surprisingly friendly.
“We were expecting the much bigger eaglets to assert themselves by sheer strength and size, and were astounded to see how well the little hawk is coping.”