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Nest Cam Shows Bald Eagle Parents Feeding Cat to Eaglets

Apr 30, 2016 05:01 AM EDT
Bald eagle
Challenger, a bald eagle, participates in an event marking the removal of the bald eagle from the endangered species list in 2007 at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. In 1963, there were barely 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states; in 2007, there are more than 10,000 nesting pairs.
(Photo : Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Lunch is served, and a cat is on the menu.

The Internet was buzzing the past week after viewers of a nest cam were horrified as it showed bald eagle parents in a nest near Pittsburgh feed their young eaglets with a cat.

The daddy and mommy eagles at a Hays nest site are indeed taking their parenting seriously, making sure that their two offsprings have something to chew on. And with a nest cam graciously showing the world their habits and lifestyle, it wasn't too long that viewers would be seeing something they might not be completely prepared for.

The Washington Post reported that on Tuesday afternoon, an adult eagle was looking after the young ones when its partner arrived with lunch. The footage showed that it dropped a small and limp cat.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, the birds all looked a little unsure of what to do with the catch for a few moments. But the footage cuts right before the feeding, perhaps to give a little privacy for their dinner and to spare the viewers the most likely gory, but necessary, way of nature.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that people on regional eagle chat boards were "squeamish" and "disturbed" when they realized what was going on. Others were unsure at first about the meal's identity.

Rachel Handel, the spokesperson for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, said in the same report that after reviewing the clip, the team believes that the cat was already dead when it was brought to the nest.

"We don't know if it was a pet of feral," she said, adding that it is impossible to determine if the kitty is a pet or a roadkill.

On their Facebook page, the Audubon Society also addressed the viewers' concern, saying that eagles bring other animals like rabbits and squirrels to the nest for their meal.

"While seeing a cat in the nest was difficult for many, we're hopeful that people will understand that this is a part of nature," the post said. "And nature isn't always kind of pretty."

The nest cams set up in different locations in the U.S. provides viewers with a learning opportunity to know more about the birds. In Washington, DC, viewers were treated to a different sight -- a happier one -- as another pair of bald eagles named "Mr. President" and "First Lady" became parents to two baby eaglets in March.

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