It was a strange sight to witness when a group of crows enraged by their reflections defaced a large mirror sculpture in a UK university's art exhibition.
The sculpture by artist Simon Hitchens, entitled In the eye of the beholder was displayed in the annual Sculpture in the Garden exhibition by the University of Leicester.
The sculpture featured a limestone monolith placed in front of a 7 feet tall polished stainless steel screen.
Within days of being installed at the University's Harold Martin Botanic Garden, scratches from claws and beaks, bird spit and marks from wing flapping were visible on the mirrored screen, a statement issued by University of Leicester said.
The other 16 sculptors' work remained unscathed leading organisers to suspect the crows had become angered by their own reflections.
Simon, 45, who lives in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, has exhibited the piece outdoors twice before, but never encountered this problem.
"There was one incident with a chaffinch when I showed the piece at the Grove Hotel last summer, but never anything like this," he said.
After hearing about the damage, Simon considered removing the piece from the exhibition, entitled Interesting Times, but then decided it should stay for the duration of the show.
"My first reaction was frustration," he said.
"The piece works so well if the mirrored surface is pristine and you are not aware of its materiality, only the reflection within it.
"I suppose the sight of birds interacting with the sculpture, I assume as a confused and aggressive act, allows us another insight into what the work is talking about - alter egos, body and soul, confronting our demons, life and death. I believe the sculpture is now truly 'living', reflecting the world around it with candour," he said.
The piece has now been cleaned but will remain in the botanic garden and will have to fend for itself against the crows over the four-month duration of the exhibition.