Asia Singapore Woman casually carries large endangered grey crowned crane near MacRitchie

Woman casually carries large endangered grey crowned crane near MacRitchie

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A video shared on several social media pages showed a woman strolling down Joan Road, near MacRitchie Reservoir clutching a large endangered bird with a big smile. The bird is an endangered grey crowned crane which is not a native bird species in Singapore.

It was reported in the newspapers about 10 years ago that grey crowned cranes and flamingos were parade in the extensive garden of a private estate in the Upper Thomson Road area.

The family which kept the cranes and the flamingo declined to talk to the press about the birds, but their domestic helper who did said that the birds have been with the family for almost a decade. A neighbour, who did not want to give her name, commented that the birds can get rowdy on occasions.

The woman who was carrying the bird in the latest video is described as a foreign domestic worker by a Facebook group which carried the video. It appears that the grey crowned crane is domesticated as it did not put up a struggle as the woman was carrying her.

The grey crowned crane is found in eastern and southern Africa, and is the national bird of Uganda. It is about 1 m tall, weighs 3.5 kg, and has a wingspan of 2 m. Its body plumage is mainly grey. The wings are predominantly white, but contain feathers with a range of colours, with a distinctive black patch at the very top. The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. The sides of the face are white, and there is a bright red inflatable throat pouch. The bill is relatively short and grey, and the legs are black. They have long legs for wading through the grasses. The feet are large, yet slender, adapted for balance rather than defence or grasping. The sexes are similar, although males tend to be slightly larger. Young birds are greyer than adults, with a feathered buff face.

This species and the black-crowned crane are the only cranes that can roost in trees, because of a long hind toe that can grasp branches. This trait is assumed to be an ancestral trait among the cranes, which has been lost in the other subfamily. Crowned cranes also lack a coiled trachea and have loose plumage compared to the other cranes.

The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) makes it is legal to import and care for such rare birds but additional permits are required for import, export, or re-export of endangered ornamental birds listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This is not the first time that this species of bird has been sighted in Singapore. One had appeared in the Seletar area, more specifically in the Seletar Country Club golf course where it has lived since 2013.

Another similar species was also seen pecking at a black car and looking at its reflection in a video posted to the Facebook group, Singapore Wildlife Sightings in December 2020.

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