S'porean man raised a crow since it was a fledgling, trains it to hunt coins & play hide-&-seek

An unconventional pet.

Ashley Tan | September 21, 2020, 08:15 PM

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Most people in Singapore might come home to a fluffy dog or cat, or the occasional parakeet or hamster.

But not one Shafiq Kamis.

Instead, Shafiq is greeted by a large, black crow.

This isn't a home invasion though, like the cases you might have heard of mynahs and macaques raiding HDB flats for food.

The crow — or Irie, as Shafiq has named it — is almost part of the family.

Crow didn't want to leave

While the idea of keeping a crow as a pet may be novel to some, Shafiq has no qualms caring for the bird.

The 39-year-old shared with Mothership that he first got Irie as a four-month-old fledgling from a friend.

Having raised Irie since young, Shafiq has almost tamed him to a certain extent.

Irie as a rather scruffy fledgling. Photo from Shafiq Kamis

Initially, keeping and caring for Irie long-term had not been on the books. Shafiq said that he had planned to release Irie when it was old enough to fly.

It seems though, that the crow might have formed an attachment — despite numerous attempts to release it, Irie would always turn up back at Shafiq's door.

This was despite the fact that on one occasion, Shafiq even dropped him off 3km away from his house.

"I told myself that I'm gonna care for him since he showed me [so much] loyalty," he said.

Part of the family

Now, Irie lives with Shafiq in his HDB flat, but flies in and out as it pleases.

Although it often leaves the house in the day to do whatever things crows do, it will be back by dusk, and sleeps in a cage in the kitchen.

Caring for Irie isn't particularly hard, Shafiq said.

Crows aren't picky with their food but Shafiq still tries to feed Irie as best as he can, giving him morsels of fried chicken, fish, vegetables, and his favourite fried eggs.

With the pesky pet occasionally asking for second helpings.

Screenshot from Tarzan Malaya SG / YouTube

And it seems even Irie has taken a shine not just to Shafiq, but his family including his granddaughter too.

Photo from Shafiq Kamis

Photo from Shafiq Kamis

Irie is so tame, it even calmly rides on Shafiq's shoulder as he cycles home after a day out.

Gif from Tarzan Malaya SG / YouTube

Has learned various tricks

Shafiq, who owns a local record company and works as a freelance sports coach, also creates YouTube videos.

The channel was previously used mainly to upload videos of him making music, but has since been taken over by clips of Irie and his two other pet macaws, Rio and Kyojin.

With a following of almost 5,000, Shafiq mainly shares training videos featuring his pet birds, including Irie. He also shares videos showing the rehabilitation of injured or fledgling birds.

Thus far, at almost two years old, Irie has managed to learn certain tricks such coin hunting, fetch and "hide-and-seek".

The former involves Shafiq hiding a coin on the parapet for Irie to find. The smart avian will then find it and deposit it inside a mug outside Shafiq's house.


Shafiq also plays "hide-and-seek" with Irie, running to hide at various floors of his HDB block until Irie finds him.


These tricks aren't unbelievable. After all, aside from primates, scientists believe that crows might be the most intelligent animals on earth.

Crows have been documented using tools to scoop insects out of holes and are capable of having the cognitive abilities required for advanced problem solving.

Shafiq adds that Irie is one of the smartest pets he has had. The crow regularly breaks out of its cage if it isn't let out for its twice-daily flights.

Photo from Shafiq Kamis

The process of training Irie is similar to that of training a dog, Shafiq says. Ultimately though, it all depends on the "trust and bond" between pet and owner.

"Once you [get] past that stage, it all depends on what you want them to do. For example if I want to train "fetch", I could spend two hours flipping a coin in the air for him to catch."

Says "Hi" to delivery riders

Shafiq has also managed to teach Irie recall — this is essentially training the bird to fly to you. Irie is now able to respond simply to Shafiq's whistle.

Videos he posted to Facebook went viral, garnering nearly 800 shares.

From his videos, it seems Shafiq typically trains Irie at the HDB corridors.

His neighbours were initially spooked by a crow swooping around, but "they are all cool people", Shafiq said, and are now used to the pair's antics.

"At times some delivery guys are shocked when a crow flies near them. They thought Irie wanted to attack them but actually it's just a friendly gesture. [Irie is] saying "Hi"."

Sometimes, Irie can give other passers-by pause too.

Gif from Shafiq Kamis / FB

When asked what he says to those who might have certain misconceptions about crows, especially with the common belief that they might attack passers-by, Shafiq does not disagree.

"I think it's not their misconception. It's true that crows are predators, scary and may attack humans. But I want to say that every wild being can be tamed if the bond is strong and the approach is right."

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Top photo from Shafiq Kamis