I had two late nesters last year. One pair of adults overtook a gourd in mid-June from a pair who were dominating two gourds. I guess they lost their nest to a weather event or predation somewhere nearby. The adult female that they fought to gain the cavity was in pretty bad shape for a while. The first morning after the new pair claimed the gourd, the defeated female just sat on the porch in a stupor, unable to feed her 5 young. A hawk could have picked her off easily as she seemed unaware of her surroundings. In the afternoon she was able to fly some and bring in some bugs. The male carried the ball on that day and several days afterword until the female recovered. Clearly, it’s not easy to defend a second gourd and feed 5 young!
A second sub-adult pair re-nested after losing 3 newborn chicks to second-year male infanticide in mid-May. It was such a horrible thing to see, a fully-grown bird with a little pink new hatchling in its beak . They only had 4 eggs and 1 never hatched. All 3 newborns were removed from the nest within 2-3 days of hatching. I was so excited when they re-nested and laid 4 eggs. But then on June 21, again almost immediately after hatching, the 4 newborns were removed from the nest.
No other nests were affected by the rouge Martin bent on infanticide. This seems very strange to me. Given that both broods of the sub-adult pair were victims, and both broods were taken very soon after hatching while no other nestlings were attacked makes me suspect the male parent. I did not, however, make positive ID on the rouge Martin, so it is only a suspicion.
So my question is: “Has it ever been documented that male parents will sometimes commit infanticide on their own young?”
Regardless of who done it, that bird is not welcome back this year!
Thanks. Hope everyone has a great year,
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