The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nest cam livestreams bald eagle parents feeding a cat to their eaglets

A bald eagle and her mate, who are not accused of eating a cat, perch near their nest in Alexandria, Va. (The Washington Post)

Proponents of keeping cats indoors offer several arguments to make their case. Roaming cats prey on birds and can get squashed by trucks, they say, and might die horrible deaths by eating rat poison or lapping up anti-freeze.

Here’s another, one that was just broadcast live for all to see: Cats can be devoured — by birds.

The cat people vs. bird people war has made it to federal court

In this particular case, by what seems to be a very hard-core eagle couple that resides in eastern Pittsburgh, and whose domestic life is streamed live on a web cam. Mom and Dad have two young beaks to feed, and cam viewers learned Tuesday just how seriously they take that job.

Late that afternoon, one adult was in the nest with the furry black babies when the other swooped down and dropped a sizable delivery. Clear as day, there it was: a small, limp, brown-and-white cat.

In a YouTube video of the incident, everyone looked a little puzzled for a minute, then one of the adults dragged the feline to the other side of the nest. The video cuts out at that point, so the dinner scene is left to viewers’ imaginations.

Sorry, birdwatchers: People think you’re creepy

Here’s the video. Warning: It isn’t gory, but it does show the cat.

A live web stream of an eagle nest in Pittsburgh broadcast this video of bald eagles feeding a cat to their eaglets. (Video: PixController, Inc.)

Live-cam viewers, of course, saw it all play out, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that some were “squeamish or disturbed.”

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania responded on its Facebook page with a post reminding people that nature “isn’t always kind or pretty.” (Case in point: After a baby bald eagle died on another webcam in Hanover, Pa., its carcass “eventually deteriorated and was slowly stomped into the structure of the nest,” the Post-Gazette reported.)

The Pittsburgh cat was probably already dead when it was brought to the nest, the Audubon Society said, though it wasn’t clear whether it met its demise at the claws of an eagle.

“While many may cringe at this, the eagles bring squirrels, rabbits, fish (and other animals) into the nest to eat multiple times each day,” the society said. “To people, the cat represents a pet but to the eagles and to other raptors, the cat is a way to sustain the eaglets and help them to grow.” 

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