Second chick at NCTC eagle nest in West Virginia killed by father

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — The chick that hatched at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) bald eagle nest in Shepherdstown, West Virginia on Thursday has suffered a similar fate as its sibling who was killed and eaten by their father earlier this week.

Around 8:45 a.m. Friday, the live NCTC/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Eagle Cam captured the father eagle attacking the baby just minutes after the mother, who had been sitting on the hatchling all night, left the nest.

The same thing happened to the first chick that hatched on Monday. In a Facebook post Tuesday, the NCTC said that because eagles are naturally aggressive and predatory, it is not uncommon for them to attack each other.

"This behavior, while heartbreaking, has been observed in other nests and is not uncommon in birds of prey," the NCTC post said.

What causes conjoined twins?

A study from 2007 from William & Mary ScholarWorks said that male bald eagles may be aggressive toward their chicks to remove competition, either for food or mating opportunities. The study recorded a similar killing that happened at a Virginia nest in 2002. In that case, the male eagle was only about 4 years old, just like the current male at the NCTC in Shepherdstown, who is likely in his first mating season.

"It is best not to think of birds of prey in human terms and having human emotions. Bald eagles are naturally predatory and aggressive; that's the only way they can survive. Every day, they hunt to live," the NCTC said Tuesday.

In a separate post after the second chick's death, the NCTC said, "While this year's nesting season was not easy, it has offered a rare glimpse into the complexities of nature and the challenges that bald eagles face."

There may have been another hint about what would happen to the final chick Thursday evening. The mother eagle was captured on the Eagle Cam seemingly defending the chick from its father.

In the video, which can be watched in the player above, the mother can be seen standing over the chick and calling loudly at the male eagle for several minutes. She only relaxes after he takes the rest of the fish and leaves the nest.

Last week, she stayed on the nest protecting her then two eggs amid a major thunderstorm.

The NCTC bald eagle couple originally laid three eggs, but the first one cracked before it could hatch.

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