> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Aves
seen? Oriental pied-hornbills are commonly seen on Pulau
Ubin and sometimes also at Changi. They are the only truly wild hornbills
found on Singapore. Unlike most other hornbills, Oriental pied-hornbills
can be found outside primary rainforests and may visit inhabited areas
to feed on fruit. But they still depend on large living trees for
Ubin, Jan 05
Features: A large bird (about
70cm) with black-and-white plumage. The hornbill's trademark is its
large, long bill. The bill, however, is not as heavy as it appears.
It is not made of solid bone but of a honeycombed tissue. An adult
Oriental pied-hornbill has a casque (a knob on top of the bill) which
is yellow-white. The male has a larger casque with few black marks,
while the female has a smaller casque with more black marks. The Oriental
pied-hornbill is basically a black-and-white bird: mostly black with
a white belly and thighs, and white accents around the eye, on the
wing tips and tail.
Hornbill Food: Hornbills eat mainly
fruit, but they also take insects and small animals including reptiles,
birds and mammals. Oriental pied-hornbills often forage in pairs or
small groups, often rather quietly for such large birds. When they
do call, it is harsh and penetrating and has been described as a loud,
staccato cackling; or a yak-yak-yak; and even as the cackling
of a witch on a broomstick! They fly rather awkwardly.
Sealed with Love: Oriental pied-hornbills
nest in a suitable hole in a tall tree. The breeding pair seals the
female inside the hole with a plaster of mud and fibres. The male
gathers and delivers earth to the female, which seals herself inside
the hole. A narrow slit is left open so he can feed her and the chicks.
He brings them mostly fruits, insects, crabs and lizards, and sometimes,
smaller birds. This remarkable behaviour is believed to deter large
A project at Pulau Ubin to provide Oriental pied-hornbills with artificial
nest boxes has had lots of success.
in the habitat: The
Oriental pied-hornbill plays an important role in the health of the
forest as it disperses seeds that are too big for smaller birds to
Human uses: In Sarawak, hornbills
are hunted for their meat and feathers. The Helmeted hornbill (Buceros
vigil) is hunted for its bill which is solid and can be carved
like ivory. The hornbill is Sarawak's state bird.
Status and threats: The Oriental
pied-hornbill is listed as 'Critically Endangered' in the Red List
of threatened animals of Singapore. The Oriental pied-hornbills on
Pulau Ubin are considered visitors from Malaysia which later started
breeding on the island. Two other hornbills were once recorded in
Singapore but are now no longer found: The Rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros
rhinoceros) and the Helmeted hornbill (Buceros vigil).
Ubin, Jan 05
Pulau Ubin, Feb 04
box in use?
Chek Jawa, Nov 09
Ubin, Dec 09
|Oriental pied-hornbills on Singapore shores
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