We regularly see the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) in mainland Singapore and in Pulau Ubin. But Stephen Lau had a treat when a Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) came for a visit at his condomonium around the Bukit Timah area.
One morning in May 2005, just as Stephen was about to leave his apartment for an appointment, he heard the heavy falpping of wings and deep harsh sounds coming from his balcony. Curious, he went to investigate. He had a treat of his life when he saw perching comfortably on the railing, a very large black and white bird with a yellow neck and black-rimmed red eyes. It had a large and prominent yellowish bill and casque. Without doubt it was a hornbill. In fact it is no ordinary hornbill. It was a female Great Hornbill, definitely an escapee as a metal tag can clearly be seen round its right leg.
It sat there looking at Stephen and started chewing and spitting seeds of some fruits kept hidden in its big beak. Intrigued, he offered the bird a slice of papaya on a plate. The bird scrambled off to his neighbour’s unit but returned later to finish off the piece of papaya.
Input and image by Stephen Lau.