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Thread subject: By any other name...
Name Date Message
Shelley 06/01/04 10:39 am (posted on the Kent, Washington Eaglecam message board, copied here, with permission from Ray):

"We were all talking about one of the eaglets picking on the other, so I asked the question about it to the resident expert of the "FrodoCam" site in Brisbane, Australia. Below is my original question to him, and his reply. I thought I'd share it here with you guys.......

From: Ray, Oregon USA
We were discussing a behaviour of baby eaglets, namely, a stronger and larger one picking on and trying to kill a weaker sibling. I remembered reading on the Frodocam site that you addressed this behaviour, and said it was uncommon with peregrine falcons. You called it a name that I can’t for the life of me remember. Could you please remind me of the name of this behaviour, and also elaborate a bit on this behaviour in raptors please? And also please tell me what purpose it serves other than just seeming plain old mean of the stronger one? Thank you! Ray / Oregon USA

Greg says:
The term that is generally used to describe the act of stronger chick killing weaker chick is “Cainism” (from the biblical Cain & Abel story) or siblicide (the killing of a sibling).
It does serve a purpose. If the adults are keeping the chicks well fed (ie times are good) then it is not likely to happen. However, if there is insufficient food to keep all youngsters well fed, then Cainism happens thus favouring the survival of the strongest chick. It also means that the protein of the weaker one does not go to waste either. It is a case of putting parental investment in the chick which has a better chance of survival.
Asynchronous hatching of eggs is also thought to have a similar purpose. The later ones are more likely to be weaker and prone to dying/being killed in adverse conditions.
You also have to realise that raptors are up at the higher levels of the food chain and must remain much rarer than lower animals. Population regulation operates through low reproductive rates, fairly high levels of mortality, longer time to maturity, territoriality, etc. Cainism is just one of the suite of raptor population regulation mechanisms."
RonS 06/01/04 11:01 am Shelly,
Thanks for taking the time to get the permissions and share that. It seems so simple and logical when put in cold scientific terms. It still doesn't make it any easier to witness. I guess we are too prone to "Rockyism", the distinctly human trait to root for the underdog.
Marie 06/01/04 11:02 am Thanks Shelley...excellent info to try to understand this aspect of nest life. Sad all the same.
Shelley 06/01/04 11:53 am Ron, so interesting that you should mention *Rocky*. I've never seen that film but just associate the name with being a *fighter*. Just this morning at work, I was thinking that I'd hate to say goodbye to #4 as only a number; he deserves a name. I asked my assistant if she thought *Rocky* was appropriate, since the little guy has been such a fighter and has also had such a *rocky* start in his short little lifetime. I know I'm probably a bit off the wall over this, but it was just crossing my mind....any thoughts on this, anyone?
Dorothy 06/01/04 12:02 pm Thanks Shelly for researching and sharing this info. Interesting that I have been following the four peregrine chicks (eyases?) at the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg PA ( where there was earlier concern for the 4th chick (smaller, not getting first dibs at food) but it has pulled through; guess there's a good food supply in the city (rats, small birds, pigeons) they are getting plenty to eat. Although this 4th chick was pushed to the back of the feed line often, it eventually got fed by a parent as the others rested, It will be sad to see #4 here pass on.
RonS 06/01/04 12:15 pm Shelley (spelled correctly this time!)
As Mickey pointed out in a previous message, last year we held off naming the chick untiul we were sure of the survivors. It's tough enough to reflect on a number or "The Little Guy", but a name........really tough.
As I re-read this I realized what a silly phrase "pointed out in a previous message" is. Do I mean as opposed to having pointed something out in a future message??
Kathy S. 06/01/04 12:16 pm I have been a silent observer all along but wanted to also thank you Shelly. Everyone's observations have been wonderfull. It's very gut wrenching to watch little #4 struggle so much. I just keep reminding myself on the positive side of "nest life", it looks like three healthy chicks will eventually fledge this year. That's one more than last year, and is a huge success for Betty and Dennis. Hope does prevail though, the little one does try so hard. Rocky is fitting.
RonS 06/01/04 12:19 pm UNTIUL wasn't there when I hit enter!!! It was really UNTIL, it really was!!! the 5 second rule strikes again. LOL :~D
Kathy 06/01/04 12:30 pm Today is a sad day for us all and "our" fourth chick.

Shelley 06/01/04 12:36 pm Thanks, everyone, for your input and feedback. You're a great group, ya know that?!! ((hugs))

(back to work, the kids are coming down the hall!!!) ;-)
Diane 06/01/04 01:12 pm Rocky is the underdog fighter and emerges a champion, so although Rocky is fitting if #4 survives, I don't think it's an appropriate name if he doesn't.
Judi 06/01/04 02:30 pm I had not seen the osprey cam for at least a week and wondered what had happened to the last egg. I was excited to see that it had hatched but then became concerned when I read all of the comments. It looks to be alive-hope it makes it.
Tim 06/01/04 03:12 pm I don't think names are appropriate at all
Dorothy 06/01/04 03:39 pm I prefer to keep them nameless too-- prefer their wildness.
Shelley 06/01/04 03:47 pm I do see your point. I'm ok with whatever, honest. Sometimes I just get a bit carried away....

Copyright © 2004 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004