While most birds are gentle and nurturing creatures, raising their young with care and love, some bird species have been known to kill their offspring. The reasons for this vary, but often have to do with the environment or the health of the chicks. In some cases, the mother bird may simply be too young or inexperienced to care for her young properly.
Below we’ll niche down on 8 birds that kill their babies. We’ll also include a few bird species where the parents encourage siblicide.
- House Sparrows
House sparrows are small 5-6 inches streaked brown and gray birds. Males spot a black throat and chest. Note its white cheeks. The female is similar in appearance, but with lighter coloring and without the black throat
Do house sparrows kill their babies?
Yes, house sparrows are known to kill their young. Their breeding season starts in early spring and researchers have noted the birds become very aggressive especially the males.
It has been reported that during the nesting season these common birds will attack other birds, including members of their species, and evict them from their nests. They’ll destroy any eggs they find in the nests and kill the babies.
House sparrows invade nests of tree swallows, purple martins and bluebirds. They are also known to chase away other birds from bird feeders.
Common around the world, they inhabit urban areas and open countryside, and build their nests in trees, bushes or holes in buildings. House sparrows eat seeds, insects and other small invertebrates.
- Cattle Egret
The cattle egret is a stunning bird that is one of the most common birds of Maui, Hawaii. These birds are also common in other parts of the world and they vary in size. They have an all-white body and yellow feet and bill.
Do cattle egrets kill their babies?
Like the Nazca boobies, adults rarely go after the young. But, the egret chicks are born ready to attack and kill their rivals who happen to be their siblings.
During the nesting season, females lay three eggs and four at most. And unlike storks that equally feed their chicks, cattle egrets will favor the two older chicks. As a result, they’ll grow in size compared to their younger sibling.
Eventually the two eldest chicks will attack and kill the weak one. Parents will hang near the nest, watch the unfolding events and not interfere.
- White Storks
White storks are large, long-legged, and long-necked wading birds with mostly white and black plumage and often a distinctive red bill. They occur in many different habitats, including marshes, rivers, lakes, and savannas. Most storks eat frogs, fish, insects, and small mammals.
Do storks kill their babies?
These unique birds are well known for filial infanticide. Why do they do this? White stork babies are blind, clumsy and helpless; they are unable to fight each other for scarce resources like hatchlings from other species.
The parents cannot provide enough food for the whole brood and opt to kill a few babies so that others can survive. Adult storks do not play favorites and will give equal portions to the hatchlings and also randomly select babies to kill.
White storks are generally monogamous birds that mate for life. Their broods consist of 4-6 chicks.
- Bald Eagles
Bald eagles are large birds of prey that are found in North America. These eagles are known for their impressive size and their striking black and white plumage. Bald eagles typically weigh between 6.6 and 15 pounds, with a wingspan of up to 7 feet. These birds are powerful predators, and their diet consists mainly of fish and other small animals.
There are two ways baby bald eagles may die. One, through siblicide and two, through filial infanticide.
When food is scarce, larger eaglets are known to attack their smaller siblings. Parents will watch and not intervene as one baby kills the other.
Also, over the years there has been recorded proof of adult bald eagles, especially fathers, attacking and killing their weak offspring. They’ll then eat it and not share it with the rest of the family. This reminds us that nature can be unforgiving and intriguing.
Budgies are the perfect pet for those who want a loving companion without the hassle of having to take care of a larger animal. These cheerful little birds are easy to care for and make great friends. But apart from their cheerful side, they also have a dark side.
Do budgies kill their babies?
There are four main causes of filial infanticide among budgies or parakeets
Parents will kill their young if there isn’t enough space to accommodate the brood. If your pair of budgies just got their babies, move them to a bigger cage.
Also mother budgies are known to kill their babies in case of a disease. If one offspring is sick, the mom kills it off to prevent the spread of disease, protecting the healthy babies.
Parakeets also kill the young if they can’t get enough food to satisfy the brood
Lastly, budgies can kill off their young if they are new parents and do not have experience taking care of their young.
- Nazca Boobies
Nazca boobies are a species of seabird that can be found on the Galapagos Islands. These birds are known for their unusual appearance, which includes a bright orange beak and webbed feet. The Nazca boobies are also known for their interesting mating rituals.
Do Nazca Bobbies kill their young ones?
While adult Nazca boobies are not known to kill the babies, they are known to take siblicide to the extreme. Siblicide is a term used when sibling birds attack each other and the stronger kill the weaker.
During the breeding season, the Nazca booby lays 2 eggs at most. Eggs are laid at least one week apart. By the time the second egg hatches, the older sibling is already a week old and strong.
The older baby then pushes the newly hatched baby out of the nest. Parents will not interfere and will leave the baby to die due to starvation or predation. Scientists are yet to explain this phenomenon. It is puzzling since there is always more than enough food for the siblings.
The Nazca boobies are a fascinating species of bird that is well worth learning more about.
Chickens are social creatures and prefer to live in groups. They communicate with each other using a variety of sounds and body language.
Do chickens kill their babies?
Yes, chickens kill their chicks accidentally or intentionally. Why do hens kill their young? Chickens are infamous for eating their eggs. And in the same way they have developed the habit of eating the chicks.
Hens feed on the babies for two reasons. One, nutritional deficiency; if their diet is low on methionine, hens will eat their chicks to get this essential amino acid. Two, hens eat their younger adult chickens to establish dominance.
Lastly, though not common, new mothers will kill their chicks because of their inexperience. They feel overwhelmed by the new parental duties and opt to kill off their babies. If a hen kills its babies, you have to eliminate it because chances are she will kill her next brood.
Will blue jays kill their babies?
Nope. Blue jays prefer insects or nuts. They will not attack their young or other birds.
Do mother birds kill their babies?
Some bird species are infamous for killing their chicks or encouraging siblicide. These include house sparrows, Nazca boobies, white storks and chickens.
Do starlings kill their babies?
Yes. During nesting season male starlings are very aggressive. They are known to invade other birds’ nests, dump the eggs, attack the young, throw them out of the nest or kill them.
Why do zebra finches kill their babies?
No. Finches are some of the most caring parents and are not known to harm their young.