AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR OF STRIATED HERON: Fight, Flight or Fright?

posted in: Heron-Egret-Bittern, Intraspecific | 3

“On the 24th July 2012, I was observing the fishing antics of Striated Herons (Butorides striatus) along the concrete banks of Rochor Canal, where they were seeking out fish prey at the water’s edge with unwavering concentration (above).

“At one particular inlet to the canal, there appeared to be a relatively higher concentration of fish, where the water was shallow and clear – definitely a choice fishing spot from any heron’s perspective. It was at this point that I witnessed the surprisingly aggressive behaviour of one heron being directed towards another, in its effort to stake claim over prime fishing territory. Its demonstration of dominance was eloquently displayed in a variety of postures and gestures that I had not previously seen among Striated Herons.

“Upon confrontation, the hostile heron lowered itself and adopted a spread-eagled posture, with the feathers on its back partially raised (above).

“Next, it flew towards its opponent and stood tall and proud, with neck and legs fully extended, as well as wings outstretched. It maintained this posture, statue-like, for at least one minute (above).

“Thereafter, it tucked in its wings, but stood ground and adopted an upright posture with elongated neck and extended legs, glaring down at its opponent with intimidating eyes for at least three more minutes (above).

“Then, just when I thought the heron had exhausted every trick in its book, it suddenly showed me its fiercest front! Perhaps it was saving its best for last? With its head tucked in, eyes front, neck feathers flared out and back feathers fully erect, the unrelenting heron charged towards its opponent like a fearsome, formidable, feathery fortress on orange feet (above). This trump card display must have given its opponent a fright, as it immediately took wing and selected the option of flight, rather than fight.”

Dr. Leong Tzi Ming
Singapore
7th August 1012

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3 Responses

  1. This is an extensive sequence of displays by the heron. Nice documentation.

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  2. Good documentation of territorial display. The porcupine-like erected back feathers is interesting.

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  3. This is really cool. I never knew there was so much wildlife in SG. Thanks 🙂

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