Crows and body language
Goh Si Guim had a most interesting encounter recently with House Crows (Corvus splendens). While he was walking along Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, he noticed an injured crow hopping on the ground with one wing limp. Being a naturalist that he is, he turned his head to take a second look. The next moment he was startled by a loud squawk and a smack on his head. A diving crow succeeded in its mission of distracting him from its injured comrade. In the interim, the injured crow rejoined the others who were all screeching around it in a protective way.
Si Guim was relieved that there was no loss of his hair nor did the strike draw blood.
The interesting thing was that there were many other people around the injured bird, all not paying attention to it except Si Guim.
From this experience, Si Guim now believes that crows are very protective of their kind. He wonders whether these crows can read body language. Did they interpret his looking at the injured bird as a sign that he was going to do it harm? After all, they left the others alone, those people who simply ignored the injured bird.
His other experience was at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve where he was once pounced upon by a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus). But that did not end in a bull’s-eye.
Note: My experience with a House Crow’s attack was when I handled an Asian Koel’s (Eudynamys scolopacea) fledgling (left) that emerged from a pair of crows’ nest in my garden. The fledgling landed on the ground during its initial attempt at flight and I managed to catch it to take a close-up shot. It was then released but its loud screaming attracted about a dozen crows overhead, all screaming loudly, so much so that all the neighbours came out to investigate what was happening. My further attempt at photographing the fledgling while on the ground was thwarted when the crows dive-bombed me, one missing my head by centimeters. Wisely I retreated indoors and the fledgling went into hiding. The screaming crows eventually left the scene and peace prevailed. YC
Thanks, Si Guim for this most interesting account. Images by YC.