Brood Reduction by Infanticide in Peregrine Falcons

  • Alastair Franke
  • Philippe Galipeau
  • Laurent Nikolaiczuk
Keywords: infanticide, avian, brood reduction, asynchronous hatch, cannibalism, Peregrine Falcon, Arctic, core brood, marginal brood


This note describes an observation of infanticide in the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius). During the summer of 2011, a marked adult female and an unmarked adult male produced and hatched two eggs at a known and regularly monitored nest site. Motion-sensitive camera images indicated that the adults attended to the two nestlings and fed them in a manner that resulted in growth and development typical for the nestlings produced in the study population. During a period of intense rainfall, the two nestlings were left unattended for several hours; both nestlings were clearly distressed, and one was close to death. When the visibly wet marked adult female returned to the nest ledge, she killed and partially consumed the smaller and weaker of the two nestlings. The female flew from the nest ledge without feeding the remaining nestling and returned shortly afterward to kill and partially consume the second nestling. This is the first documentation of infanticide in wild Peregrine Falcons.