An eagle called on the Director, SBG

posted in: Collision-Reflection, Raptors | 5


On 13th December 2007 a large raptor, thought to be an eagle, paid a visit to the office of the Director, Singapore Botanic Gardens in Holttum Hall. Dr Chin See Chung was not in at that time and it was just as well as the bird came in by way of the window.

It crashed on the window, breaking one of the glass panels (left). The glass pieces landed inside the room but the bird landed outside. Those who witnessed the crash reported that the bird was huge, some 60 cm long. It was not seriously injured and managed to recover, to fly away soon after.

Dr Chin consulted Teo Chan Seng who thought that it could be a White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) (left top). Morten Strange confirms that it may be so as this sea eagle, mainly the juvenile, occurs in the Gardens. However, Morten believes that it could also be a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) (left bottom), a bird that is often confused with the sea-eagle.

As Morten adds, “There are many reports of birds flying into glass windows, mainly because they are disorientated or simply think they can pass thru. (More rarely, they might attack a ‘rival’ = their own reflection). We have had Long-tailed Parakeets (Psittacula longicauda) flying into our display windows on several occasions, they are stunned, but they don’t die.

“What is absolutely weird in this case is that the window broke, I cannot recall another case like this, the impact must have been tremendous! It is a wonder the bird didn’t get fatally injured, it would have been great to have a picture of it, but better still that it got up and was able to fly away of course …!”

Dr Chin See Chun & Morten Strange
December 2007
(Image of window courtesy Dr Chin, sea eagle by KC Tsang and kite by John Arifin)

5 Responses

  1. K C Tsang

    Hmmm…. the bird must have been wearing a crash helmet …

    Cheers !!!

    and Merry Christmas !!!!!

  2. Serene

    The cars’s hood are designed to get crashed real badly so that tha main body with driver and passengers do not get as badly affected. Meaning the energy of the impact is mostly used to flatten the front of the car leaving the main body alone.

    I would think that the fact that the glass broke took away most of the energy of the impact. Meaning the energy of the impact is mostly used to break the glass.

  3. Luan Keng

    I once had a yellow bittern hit the window of the lab in NIE. It was a very loud knock but the window did not break. We went out and found the bittern on the ground, almost dead and the bill had a bent tip!

    Another time, a bunch of crows were chasing a female koel in SBG. The koel eventually knocked into the trunk of a tree and fell. When it was brought to me, blood was oozing out of its mouth. I knew the skull had cracked. It died shortly.

    Many people have also sent me birds that they have picked up from their house or workplace. On autopsy, many have a cracked skull or bent/broken bill. These birds are mostly small-medium sized ones like pittas, pigeons, bitterns, koels, etc. I guess these smaller birds are not as lucky as the eagle.

    In the States, many people hang window ornaments on their glass doors and windows to warn birds against flying into them. In Singapore, we don’t seem to have this practice. In fact, we just keep building more glass buildings and killing more birds!

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