White-bellied Sea-eagle: Grey Heron interaction

on 9th October 2013

“This scene was played out yesterday afternoon at about 1530 hrs (above). This juvenile White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) perched itself on the crown of the mangrove tree, scanning the area for potential prey. It is about 40m from the bridge across Sungei Tempines where the current Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) heronry is, spanning both banks of the river.

“Ten minutes later, the sea-eagle decided to take it’s chance on the nestling just a couple of metres away. The parent Grey Herons were watchful and alert all this while. They screamed and spread their wings (probably to make themselves look bigger) and pointed their long sharp beak at the attacker (above).

“Realising it’s futility, the inexperienced juvenile sea-eagle decided to get out of harm’s way. It then approached another nest that was guarded by an adult heron (above, below). The earlier commotion had alerted this bird to potential danger, and it’s scream was even louder. This juvenile sea-eagle probably had to stay hungry a little longer since the whole heron colony was aware of it’s presence. It landed out of sight at a lower branch along the river.

“About an hour later, it was observed (from Hut 5) to be cruising low (mid-tree level) along the river looking for potential prey. This is not the usual sea-eagle way of hunting; it will circle at higher altitude and dives down when a prey is spotted.”

Goh Juan Hui
3rd October 2013

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

3 Responses

  1. Fantastic photos. Am I to understand that the eagle was trying to attack the herons to eat them??? I have cycled to Pasir Ris Park at 3+ a.m. before, and heard the very loud screams of herons in mangrove trees near the water park (or whatever that place is – where there are long slides). But because it was so dark it was impossible for me to tell what was agonising them. There was so much movement in the tree that the top branches were shaking violently. Till today I have no idea what caused that. Could it be the eagle? But at 3 a.m. could this have been probable?!

  2. I witnessed yesterday a similar happening of a white bellied sea eagle attacking the herons at Bishan Park.
    There was an irritating copycat crow closely following behind the eagle imitating the latter’s action

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