Nature red in tooth and claw
Yet another lovely example of horrifying savagery in the natural world:
When Douglas W. Mock of the University of Oklahoma began studying egrets in Texas three decades ago, he knew that the bigger babies in a clutch would peck the smaller ones to death. Still, Dr. Mock was caught off guard by what he saw — or failed to see. He had assumed that the murderous attacks would surely take place while Mom and Dad egret were out fishing. ...Another reason to hesitate before too eagerly making the analogy between the "positive" results generated by natural selection and by pure, unfettered market forces.
Instead, Dr. Mock witnessed utter parental indifference. The mother or father would stand by the side of the nest, doing nothing as one chick battered its sibling bloody. "The parent would yawn or groom itself and look completely blasé," said Dr. Mock... "In the 3,000 attacks that I witnessed, I never saw a parent try to stop one. It's as though they expect it to happen."
One researcher watched a nest of African black eagles for three days as the larger eaglet alternated between tirelessly stabbing at its sibling and taking food from its solicitous mother's mouth. There was prey to spare, but the mother did not bother feeding the second, abused baby. When the eaglet's poor, tattered body was finally tossed to the ground, the researcher calculated that it had been pecked 1,569 times.
PS: It also adds yet more to the "problem of evil" flaw in "intelligent design" - why on earth would God design hatchlings to kill each other by pecking? Surely the mother could at least have been designed to slip the unwanted hatchlings a bit of painless poison.