What Does a Baby Hawk Look Like?

July 16, 2023
David Sunnyside

A baby hawk looks like a tiny ball of fluff. They're covered in natal down and are completely dependent on their parents. Once they grow their juvenile flight feathers and take their first flights, they're known as fledglings. Then they become fierce predators like their parents.

In Northern California, a bald eagle was spotted carrying a baby red-tailed hawk back to her nest. The birdwatcher who photographed it assumed the raptor would be lunch for her eaglet, but the eagle mother tended to the hawklet as if it was her own. The blended raptor family, which was dubbed Tuffy, is now a thriving part of the community.

This inter-species parenting is not common, but it's not unheard of, either. In fact, a similar case made headlines in 2017 when a pair of bald eagles raised a young red-tailed hawk near Nanaimo, British Columbia. Ornithologist David Bird, a retired wildlife biology professor at McGill University, says he's heard of two other instances of bald eagles raising hawklets.

Despite their fearsome appearance, it's a good idea to keep an eye out for baby hawks in the wild. If you happen to find one, don't feed it bread or milk—that could kill the young animal. Instead, contact your local animal control or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

If you see a raptor with light yellow eyes, it's likely a juvenile first-year Red-tailed Hawk. Adults have dark brown eyes. Ospreys are not hawks and should never be confused for them. They are fish-eating birds that mate for life. They are also renowned for their beautiful aerial displays and dives. They're easy to spot around lakes, rivers, and other large bodies of water.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram