Monday, 29 July 2013

Oriental Pied Hornbill

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of wildlife I spot on my mornings walk... and being in this part of the world this means new and exotic species to me.

This morning I heard this loud raucous noise that went on and on....almost like a laugh. I did at first think perhaps it was a kingfisher, which are prevalent along the cost and have a "laughing" or "argumentative" call. However as I neared a very large tree, at the very top I spotted a Hornbill. Which since looking up on the internet I now know is an Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris. Sadly my photos taken from mobile are very poor as it was so high up but please take my word for it, its a Hornbill.... honest....truthfully!! I have also included two photos from wikipedia of what they look like if I could of got closer!

The birds were thought to be extinct in Singapore and are still on the "critically Endangered" Red List of animals in Singapore - I am so excited to have spotted one :) In the late 1990s they appeared as "visitors from Malaysia" to Singapores Pulau Ubin island just to the North East, but then they started breeding there in artificial nest boxes, following a project to reestablish them.  The noise they make has been likened to a witches cackling and I can understand why. They are large birds around 70cm and are black and white. they have a large bill with a casque (knob) on top, hence its name. Hornbills nest in holes in tall trees and are usually in pairs where the breeding female is sealed up inside the hole with a narrow slit for the male to feed her. They feed off insects, fruits, crabs and lizards - this may explain why I saw this one down on the East Coast Park.

I feel truly honoured to have seen one of these endangered birds and will be on the look out for them again - although the loud cackle helped in this today.

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