Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush confronting a Mirror

on 28th August 2013

“It was up in Fraser’s Hill< Malaysia that I again witness this unusual behaviour of a bird that was aggressive with it's own image from a mirror. Any ways how can this bird adapt to developments from man which in a way is fast out pacing nature's very slow gradual evolvement. Anyways with its' very small brain size it thus is not able to understand what it is seeing is but a mirror image of itself. Thus this Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, " Garrulax erythrocephalus " is utterly confused, trying to claw at an opponent which is but a mirror image of himself and not able to inflict any damage to the mirror image of itself. If you were to look closely it would often stop at the side of the mirror and looked behind the mirror and not be able to find its' mirror image to fight with. Thus it would hop back to the area where his mirror image is and start all over again. I have flipped the mirror over on to the ground so that the reflective side will not be shown, hoping that no human being will use it again to confuse the poor creatures encountering it. KC Tsang
Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia
11th August 2013

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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

One Response

  1. Dear Tsang
    Thanks for that delightful recording and for reducing the risk of further distress. This phenomena is not that unusual. I have seen it a number of times, especially in urban environments.
    One recent excellent publication on the subject was by Joël Roerig in the ejournal Ornithological Observations (link:‎).
    It is called “shadow boxing” in birds – to describe birds attacking, pecking, and flying at their reflections in windows and mirrors.
    Personally I do not think birds have small brains – this may be true in size but not necessarily true in capacity and spirit. If anything I believe that we (mankind) are the smallest brain creatures in the way we mindlessly destroy this world.

    Once again, great work.

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