Hope, the mother peregrine at the Cathedral of Learning, has done what we prayed she would not do. This evening she opened Egg #3 as it was hatching, then killed and ate the chick inside.
The slideshow above spans more than half an hour. Here’s a summary of what happened.
- 5:22pm Terzo was on the nest. Hope returned, got close to the eggs and opened egg #3, which was close to hatching. She doesn’t harm the chick at that point. Terzo watches her intently.
- Hope and Terzo stare at each other. Eventually Terzo turns away and leaves.
- Hope broods on the nest for about half an hour
- 5:51pm: Hope looks up, leaves the nest.
- She returns and thinks for a bit.
- Then she goes to the nest, pulls Chick #3 away from nest, kills it and begins to eat it.
- Chick #3 is now food so she carries it to the other chicks and feeds them.
Keep in mind that Hope’s behavior is abnormal. We don’t know why she does this. No one knows why. I won’t even speculate. We do know that she does it every year.
There are two eggs to go, so …
Caution! Don’t watch the eggs hatch at the Cathedral of Learning if it upsets you to see a mother kill her young.
(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)