Hawk Mother Returns: A Story of Interspecies Adoption

An injured red-tailed hawk can no longer fly free, but her instinct to become a mother is so strong that she adopts and raises two abandoned red-shouldered hawks in this true and heartwarming story of interspecies friendship.

Author: Kara Hagedorn & Marlo Garnsworthy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Ages: 5-9
Grade Levels: K-4
Lexile: 780L
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1970039085
Price: $18.95
Where to Purchase:

“Hawk Mother (2017) featured Sunshine, a red-tailed hawk injured by hunters and cared for by Hagedorn, who watched the bird adopt two baby chickens and raise them as her own. In this sequel, Hagedorn takes two fertile eggs rescued from a red-shouldered hawk’s nest and places them in Sunshine’s nest. After they hatch, their foster mother cares for them attentively, while Hagedorn avoids contact with them, a precaution that may save their lives after they’re released into the wild. The chicks watch Sunshine intently, following her example and learning survival skills. Initially, they mimic her clucking sounds, but later they will vocalize like other red-shouldered hawks. The story follows the young birds into adulthood when they fly away, but they occasionally return. Animal lovers will be captivated by their first sight of a soft, fuzzy light-gray chick standing beside its sibling’s eggs as if waiting for it to hatch. The text offers information within the context of a true story, illustrated with one or more color photos on each page, while additional reflections appear in the back matter.”—Booklist

“Zoologist, Kara Hagedorn (Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens) shares another story of cross-species adoption, in this stunning nonfiction title. “One spring morning, my phone rings. Someone has cut down a tree with a nest containing two red-tailed hawk eggs. ‘Will Sunshine adopt them?’ asks the wildlife rehabilitator.” And so begins the story of how Sunshine, a red-tailed hawk who has been unable to fly since being shot many years ago, once again becomes a surrogate mother. Told in first person, Hagedorn shares every step in the raising of the chicks. From Sunshine feeding the newly hatched chicks, Bella and Romeo, to teaching them how to hunt. Beautiful, color photos that show the process of Sunshine raising these two chicks, which turn out to be red-shouldered hawks, is very exciting. Over several weeks the chicks grow until one day, Kara decides it is time for them to leave the safety of the aviary. ‘I decide today is the day for them to leave. I take Sunshine out of her aviary so she can watch. Then, heart beating, I open the aviary door.’ Included is an author’s note explaining who Kara is and how she came to adopt Sunshine, more information about hawks, and a glossary. An important book to share when explaining the importance of how to be mindful of nature, and the growth cycle of raptors.”—Nonfiction Detectives

“A fun and memorable read from start to finish, Hawk Mother Returns will prove a welcome and popular addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library wildlife themed picture book collections for children ages 5-9.”—Midwest Book Review

“Sunshine the red-tailed hawk cannot fly due to an injury. She is being cared for by a zoologist named Hagedorn, who shares this second, amazing story about Sunshine. This sequel to Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens (2017) is a heart-warming story of interspecies adoption. The challenge in this volume is whether Sunshine will care for the egg and the newly hatched chick of a red-shouldered hawk. Red-tailed hawks like Sunshine and red-shouldered hawks are different, competing species. Hagedorn tells the story through evocative text and magnificent, color photographs. Teachers may want to include this book in a unit about birds or conservation. The publisher’s website makes some related activities available for free. The back matter includes additional information about hawks along with some websites. Bold print words in the main body of the text are in the glossary. Children who love animals will be drawn to this moving story.”—Children’s Literature

“Sunshine, the beautiful red-tailed hawk, has not been able to fly since she was shot several years ago. But her motherly instincts are still strong. So when a tree is cut down that had a nest and two hawk eggs, Sunshine’s keeper is pretty sure she will be a mother to these babies. But these are red-shouldered hawks, will Sunshine accept a different species of hawks? A beautifully told story about interspecies adoption and the bond animals make with each other.” (Ages 5-9)—KidsBookshelf

Click to Download “Put Sunshine's Babies in Her Nest” activity. Cut along the dotted line and place them in her nest!

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Kara Hagedorn

Kara Hagedorn loves animals. In college she studied zoology. She has worked as a wildlife biologist for Cornell University, Morro Bay National Estuary Program, Topaz Solar Farm and New York State Parks, where she was also a naturalist and environmental educator for 12 years. She lives in Santa Margarita, California, with her husband, two horses, and Sunshine the hawk. To find out more about Kara and her school presentations, please visit www.hawkmother.com.

Marlo Garnsworthy

Marlo Garnsworthy is an Australian-American author, illustrator, editor, science communicator, and naturalist. Her published works include fiction and nonfiction, though nonfiction and science are her passion. She has traveled extensively, frequently accompanying scientists working in the field, and spent two months on a scientific research expedition, sailing on an icebreaker from Antarctica through the planet’s roughest seas, in the Southern Ocean. She lives in Wakefield, Rhode Island. You can learn more about Marlo, her books, and her school presentations at www.wordybirdstudio.com.