There is a bird that eats its neighbours’ babies

Source: BBC

By Julianna Photopoulos

Many species have been seen practicing infanticide and cannibalism. But birds of prey, also known as raptors, are something of an exception. They have only rarely been seen doing these things, and when they have been spotted the circumstances were usually exceptional. For instance, parents have killed their own offspring to feed siblings, or chicks that were already dead have been eaten by parents or siblings.

But one bird of prey has taken things a bit further. In two separate studies, researchers have caught Eleonora’s falcons on camera breaking both taboos. These birds, it seems, are willing to prey on their neighbours’ offspring.

The mother feeds her chick on prey she has caught (Credit: Ronny Steen)

The mother feeds her chick on prey she has caught, in this case a passerine bird (Credit: Ronny Steen)

One study reports an incident of cannibalism that took place in September 2013 on Akrotiri Peninsula in Cyprus. It was published in the Journal of Raptor Research in 2016.

A nestling is easy prey because it has little strength to fight back, and it can’t fly to escape

Eleonora’s falcons generally eat winged insects, but during the breeding season they mainly feed on small birds instead. It is therefore not surprising to see adult falcons dismembering birds to feed to their chicks.

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