House Crows and Cinnamon Bittern

on 12th September 2007

“So far we’ve been speaking of House Crows (Corvus splendens) going after smaller victims, but once I’ve seen them tackle a bittern in the air.

“It was a Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus), an unfortunate Glass Window Casualty (see 1, 2). It reportedly crashed into the classroom block of my secondary school, and together with a friend I took it in and ‘nursed’ it (left top). It was nothing much, just some grazes on the wing and it was in a bit of a shock. Well, after a few days it looked healthy (and certainly much more aggressive) enough, so we decided to release it. We placed him on a nearby open field, and he lifted off beautifully and with purpose. We watched it go into the distance… and then, to our horror, a flock of about six or seven House Crows took flight from a tree close by, and cawed after it (left bottom). They closed the gap and tried to claw at it, the poor bittern trying its best to evade. It was a gripping and shocking aerial chase, a one-sided battle. My memory’s hazy, so I can’t remember the specifics but it ended with the messy flurry of black and brown headed for the ground. They fell behind some buildings some distance away, so I did not manage to find out what then happened. I was never really fond of crows to begin with but from that day on I absolutely disliked them.

PS: “I find that the Black-naped Orioles (Oriolus chinensis) frequently chase after crows, particularly if the crows have something in their bills – food? Kudos to the orioles.”

Jacqueline Lau
September 2007

(Images by of bittern by Tang Hung Bun; crow by YC Wee)

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

    1. I often saw Asian glossy Starlings, Black-naped orioles and even the tiny olive-backed sunbirds mobbing crows that intruded into their territories.

      Recently I saw a House Crow mobbing a White Bellied Sea Eagle that cross its path. The crow was flying north presumable to its roost while the sea eagle was flying eastward along the Bishan Park canal that is being upgraded now.

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