White-bellied Sea Eagle mobbed by crows

posted in: Interspecific, Raptors | 5

“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

5 Responses

  1. Dan

    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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