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Young eagles commit Cainism

Staré Hory

Visitors to the Veľká Fatra and Low Tatra wilderness areas can now see this year's offspring of the rare and beautiful golden eagle, said Miroslav Saniga, a researcher for the Ecology Institute of the Slovak Academy of Science research center in Staré Hory. The large carnivorous birds traditionally begin soaring above the forested mountains every August.

The mother Golden Eagle usually lays two eggs in February, which she incubates for 40 to 45 days, Saniga said. Once the eggs hatch, the elder eaglet tends to peck the younger, weaker sibling to death - a widespread golden eagle practice which Saniga said was known as Cainism.

Saniga said the practice presented a perplexing challenge for bird conservationists trying to protect the 60 to 80 eyries - nests of large predatory birds - from local bird thieves. One suggested measure has been to take the younger bird from its nest before the elder manages to peck it to death and rear it in captivity until it is large enough to defend itself and move home.

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