MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami's most famous bald eagles, Ron and Rita, third bald eagle chick did not survive the night after it hatched Thursday morning.
"Though sad, this was not unexpected as it was at a big disadvantage hatching out several days later than its siblings and was unable to compete with their larger size and strength. Survival of the fittest," Zoo Miami's Ron Magill posted on Twitter.
In their ongoing battle to eliminate competition, Magill said the chick's siblings simply overpowered it, perhaps smothering it or simply preventing it from getting any food or water until it succumbed and was buried under the nest bowl.
He added that bald eagles are only around 50 percent successful in fledging chicks because of the many challenges that are faced.
"Rita" laid her first egg the day before Thanksgiving and the rest came soon after.
The Ron Magill Conservation Endowment and Wildlife Rescue of Dade County teamed up to build an artificial platform for the eagles in an undisclosed location after their original one was destroyed during a storm last March.
In addition to the custom-built platform, they installed state-of-the-art cameras for 24-hour viewing on a live Eagle Cam which provides intimate views into the nest.
WATCH: Third Eaglet Hatches
After the successful hatching of the first two eggs, Magill wasn't sure whether the third one would actually hatch.
"It turns out the first one hatches on New Year's Day, how beautifully prophetic is this? What a way to bring in the new year, we're thinking this is fantastic. The next one hatched the next day on January 2, the third one, several days went by, nothing happens. And then this morning on Three Kings Day. It's as if they're following the script to a movie," said Magill on Thursday.
Bald eagles are monogamous and mate for life, usually returning to the same nest year after year and building upon it.
They usually lay only two eggs so having this pair lay three was a "pleasant surprise," said Magill.
Successfully raising three eaglets is rare because they are often aggressive toward one another.
Though difficult to watch, it is a natural behavior where the dominant chick tries to eliminate competition for food. This third chick had the odds stacked very high against it as it was significantly smaller and weaker than its siblings.
The eagles are named after Ron Magill and his wife Rita.
"They are incredibly dedicated parents," he said proudly but added again, watching the siblings fight is sometimes hard to watch but completely natural.
"You'll see these siblings fight and that's totally natural. Because in birds of prey, they will fight each other sometimes, killing the subordinate one so they can monopolize the food. It's not like a brother, sister. I love you. I love you. You're my brother, my sister. It's I hate you. I hate you because you're competing for my food. So it may be difficult to watch sometimes because the fighting can get pretty intense," said Magill.
To see the live Eagle Cam, click here.
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