During 2011, four separate instances of indirect filial cannibalism, whereby adults consumed their young that died from unknown causes, were observed using video-monitoring techniques in a nesting colony of Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) on Alcatraz Island. Though they were not observed actively killing their young, in all four observations adult Black-crowned Night-Herons consumed their young following death (i.e., indirect filial cannibalism). We could not determine cause of chick mortality, but parental neglect was likely a contributing factor in at least two instances. Indirect filial cannibalism is not commonly documented among birds, and understanding how cannibalism contributes to nest failure can help researchers better understand factors that limit nesting populations.
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Vol. 129 • No. 2