White-bellied Sea Eagle mobbed by crows

on 27th November 2009

“There were many reports of crows mobbing White-Bellied Sea Eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) in flight. I cannot recall any incident of a stationary White-Bellied Sea Eagle being mobbed.

“On 21 Nov, a stationary White-Bellied Sea Eagle as mobbed by crows. The drama did not take place on a tree. It took place on a common TV antenna on the roof of a high-rise flat (above).

“The weather was unusually wet the previous week. Probably this eagle had perched openly on the TV antenna for warmth from the early morning sun after a cool night and the recent wet spell.

“Shortly after perching on the man-made structure, the eagle was joined by 6 crows perched on different parts of the antenna. The mobbing was carried out when the eagle was not looking (above). The crows would attempt attacking by inching towards the eagle along the metal structure. For aerial attacks, the target was at the back of the eagle. Despite being outnumbered, the eagle endured and remained relatively calm. There were only two occasions when the eagle was flustered, spreading its wings to show off its might (top right). For a brief period, four Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) were also perched on the antenna. However, they did not join in the mobbing.

“The crows’ constant harassment continued on and off for about 20 minutes. Apparently, they were not successful as the eagle stayed put without lifting a foot (above left). Interestingly, shortly after the eagle raised up its rear and defecated, the crows flew away. Was the defecation a factor in the crows’ surrender? Some enlightenment from the experts would be appreciated.

“The eagle was then left alone and was seen preening itself (above right). It stayed for another 25 minutes before flying off.”

Kwong Wai Chong
23rd November 2009

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

5 responses

  1. Impressive pictures of confrontation between different species. I’m no expert, but would like to hazard a guess regarding the crows giving up after the eagle defecated: could the behaviour be territorial like what some animals do to mark out their territory?

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