Raptor tosses chick in front of frantic mother hen at Pasir Ris Park before devouring it

It's a bird eat bird world.

Ashley Tan | June 01, 2021, 02:46 PM

Nature might be beautiful, but it can also be unforgiving.

One local hobbyist wildlife photographer, Terence Szeto, caught a glimpse of this mercilessness on Sunday (May 30) afternoon after seeing a raptor tear a small chick apart at Pasir Ris Park.

Predator and prey

The raptor, a Changeable hawk-eagle, had swooped down and managed to snag a tiny junglefowl chick.

Speaking to Mothership, Szeto said the mother hen tried desperately to defend her baby, but was unable to ward off the much larger predator.

Photo courtesy of Terence Szeto

The mother hen in question.

Video from Carlyn Yen Law / FB

The hawk-eagle proceeded to play with its food, tossing the chick into the air like a toy several times.

The mother hen frantically ran around the raptor and made plenty of noise, Szeto said, but her efforts were futile and the raptor eventually chased her away.

Photo courtesy of Terence Szeto

Photo courtesy of Terence Szeto

After spending around 20 minutes on the ground, the large bird later moved to a tree to consume its meal in peace.

Ripping the chick's head off, the hawk-eagle finished eating in mere five minutes.

Szeto added that the same predator was spotted several hours later at another part of Pasir Ris Park devouring another bird.

Warning: Slightly graphic content

Photo courtesy of Terence Szeto

Photo courtesy of Terence Szeto

To intervene or not?

Commenters on Szeto's Facebook post praised the shots and marvelled at the chance sighting, while others also expressed their sympathy for the mother hen.

Some users, however, questioned why Szeto did not intervene during the incident.

Wildlife photographers and videographers, such as those filming documentaries, have long held the belief that nature should be captured without human intervention.

After all, death is a natural process in the animal world, and every creature has its place in the delicate ecosystem. Sometimes, people with well-meaning intentions could upset this balance.

For example, many people have taken to rescuing baby birds they find outdoors, despite the bird's parents being nearby.

Local wildlife rescue organisation Acres previously released an advisory on what to do in the event one finds a baby bird, as not all of them might be stranded or in imminent danger.

More about the Changeable hawk-eagle

The Changeable hawk-eagle is a resident breeder in Singapore. Incidentally, this is Szeto's first time seeing one.

The Singapore subspecies has two morphs, or two colour-types, which gave rise to the "Changeable" in its name.

The individual sighted by Szeto is a dark morph. The pale morph, as its name suggests, has a paler plumage with white and brown streaks on its chest and underparts.

The species feeds on a variety of prey, including small mammals, birds and reptiles.

Top photo courtesy of Terence Szeto