Efforts at Siblicide continue at Dale Hollow Friday Morning

18 March 2022

I got up specifically early this morning to check the Dale Hollow Bald Eagle Nest. I was shocked Thursday that Little Bit had survived the beakings of Big and wanted to see how it was.


All of the chicks were cuddled together, all alive.

River left the nest and returned with a small fish at 07:07:04.

Big immediately went up to eat leaving the Middle chick and Little Bit in the middle of the nest.

Big immediately went over to Little Bit and started tossing it about despite eating all the fish alone and having a huge crop. Middle moved to the rails to get out of the way of Big’s attacks.

It didn’t matter. Big went between Little Bit and Middle with the continuation of its violent beaking from yesterday afternoon and early evening.

Having frightened Middle, Big turns back on Little Bit this time more ferocious than before.

Big gets Little Bit’s entire had in its mouth, shaking the little body.

Leaving Little Bit, Big turns back on Middle.

Big turns back to Little Bit who has moved slightly causing Big to look over.

Big passed out in a food coma but not before he had really beaked Little Bit. Middle moved up to where the fish used to be – perhaps to be ready if River brings in another fish?

Middle moves to the other side of Big and that wakes her up. The attacks begin again on Middle.

Big goes back and forth and begins attacking Little Bit again.

By 07:47 Big is laying on top of Little Bit. Little Bit has had, to my knowledge, no food for 48 hours unless he got some tiny bites around 19:00 when it gathered up the strength to get to where Middle was being fed the last of the fish tail. It is hard to imagine this fragile little eaglet being still alive.

It is very difficult to tell the status of Little Bit at this moment. It appears there is some slight movement.

It is clearly apparent that Big will not allow the other two siblings to eat unless it is a situation like last evening when some fish was left and Big had finally gone into food coma for good. Middle had moved up slowly perhaps thinking River would return to brood and it was ready. Little amassed some energy and got up there but because of the position of River, it was difficult to tell if Little Bit got any fish or not.

If River were to fly in with a fish the two younger siblings might be able to eat. Will she? We wait.

It is emotionally draining to watch siblicide happening on a nest. This is not the first Eagle nest and it will not be the last. I am sad to see Little Bit – or any sentient being – treated this way. River will not get involved. It is clear that there are other things happening at this nest. My first observation is that River has been bringing in the food. Obey seems to come to ruffle the nesting material but I have not observed him piling up the fish for his family. Why is he not helping? As you have probably seen, it is difficult for one parent to do everything. So what has happened to Obey that he is not providing food? There might well be other things happening but, at the moment, there is fish for one eaglet and Big is in high survival mode.

Because of the high emotional cost watching the Dale Hollow nest, I will not be checking it often but will return sometime later today to check on the eaglets. Take care all. I wish that this were a sunnier report.

Thanks to Dale Hollow for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.


  1. Brian Goldstein says:

    Hello Mary Ann,
    Since DH does not provide a chat forum, I appreciate your recent thoughts on this nest. As you noted, it is so uncomfortable and somewhat disheartening to observe the emotionally neutral state of nature. A powerful lesson in accepting what is, as it is.

    1. Thank you, Brian. I am desperately trying to figure out the Dale Hollow nest. It looked very promising when the first two chicks hatched. It is becoming clearer in the past 3 days. It appears that River, the female, is bringing in the prey and this morning, she has jumped from her perch above the nest or flown into the nest alerting. I wonder if there has been some territorial dispute and Obey has been injured. He did come to the nest to stir up the nest materials but not with prey. It was difficult to ascertain any injuries if there are any. It is extremely sad. I do not like to see the little ones suffer over a long period but it is pretty clear that the Mum can only provide for one, perhaps 2 chicks. We wait.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    It’s very sad Mary Ann. I am praying for the 2 at Dale Hollow. 🙏
    I pray they get fed today somehow. I wish River would attempt to feed them somehow. 🙏
    Have a good day We have storms coming through here today.

    1. It is just horrific. I hope that the Middle one survives. Take care with the storms. They can get bad this time of year.

  3. Debra Hundley Stanton says:

    This is truly heartbreaking. I have watched quite a few nests and have never saw anything like this. It saddens my heart. I will not be watching this nest again, it makes me depressed. Rest in Peace sweet baby, I wish things could have been differant for you and the middle chick.

    1. Dear Debra, Thank you so much for writing to me. I certainly understand your feelings. This nest started out well although I understand that it had trouble in the past. Something happened. The male is not injured so it is difficult to understand. There are great bald eagle families to watch! I ache for that wee babe and hope, beyond hope, that DH14 leaves DH15 alone. Take care.

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