Viewer discretion advised: CROW said siblicide possible in SWFL Eagle Cam eaglets

Published: February 6, 2021 11:14 AM EST
Updated: February 6, 2021 1:21 PM EST
A screen grab shows one of the parent eagles feeding an eaglet. (CREDIT: CROW)

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is warning the public that siblicide is possible in the case of two eaglets returned to their SWFL Eagle Cam nest on Friday.

E17 and E18 were taken from their nests on Jan. 29 due to an eye infection and returned to their eagle parents, Harriet and M15, a week later.

Since their return, one eaglet has proven to be dominant over the other, often pecking the more submissive one.

CROW, on Sanibel, posted on Facebook that the clinic has received several calls and messages and “we are aware of what is transpiring.”

CROW said they have reached out to state and federal authorities and will only intervene if directed to do so.

“It is important to remember that sibling dominance and siblicide (one eaglet killing the other) is a natural process that happens in many nests,” CROW said. “The behavior being exhibited by both eaglets plays an important role in their development of survival skills.”

Harriet and M15 could also choose not to feed one eaglet to help the stronger bird survive, CROW said.

“We understand that this may be difficult for some viewers to see and recommend viewer discretion,” CROW said.

An admin for the SWFL Eagle Cam posted that sibling rivalry between eaglets is normal. It ultimately depends on food availability and dominance.

“As they get older, you will see less of the sibling rivalry,” the admin said. “Siblicide sometimes occurs, but is generally a function of not enough food, not an inherent dominant tendency.”

The dominant eaglet is usually the older eaglet, the admin said. In this case, E17 is the oldest. The younger eaglet usually learns to wait until the older eaglet is full.

“Since these eaglets were at CROW the past week, they have not had the normal experiences in the nest in regard to feedings,” the admin said.

“The eaglets are behaving as raptors – nothing more, nothing less. There are no ‘bullies’ in the raptor world,” the admin said.

The admin said if viewers are uncomfortable with the dominance of one eaglet over another, they should stop viewing.

“As humans we don’t want to see any wildlife harmed and it is natural to worry about their survival. But we have to remember that this is their world – not ours. And what might seem normal to us may not be normal to them,” they said.