An adult bald eagle in Pittsburgh was seen on an online livestream Tuesday bringing a cat back to the nest for its two young eagles.
Some viewers watching the Hays nest site were disturbed by what they saw on the video. Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania spokeswoman Rachel Handel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the feeding behavior was perfectly normal.
“While many may cringe at this, the eagles bring squirrels, rabbits, fish (and other animals) into the nest to eat multiple times each day,” she wrote in a Facebook message. “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.”
Handel said the group couldn’t determine whether the cat was a pet or feral.
The Post-Gazette noted that eagle watchers have experienced other cringe-worthy moments. A raccoon attacked the nest in 2014 and only one of three eggs survived the Hays nest this year.
Handel said that the livestream of the nest gives humans a better appreciation of the wildlife around them.
“A lot of people have an idyllic view of these eagles. I think the eagle cameras are providing an education of what it takes to survive and raise offspring in nature,” she added.
The two young eagles hatched about six weeks ago and now take up almost the entire nest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.