Oriental Pied Hornbills partying at Pulau Ubin

on 7th February 2008

Angie Ng was at the offshore island of Pulau Ubin on the evening (1815 hours) of 22nd January 2008 when she saw an unusual spectacle.


“The Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) had gathered below the jetty beside the police post at 
Ubin last evening (left). 

Managed to capture (of the total 15) only 10 on the rocks and 3 on the 
 Sorry, pics of poor quality; am sending my other camera for repair!

 Cheers for a wonderful day!”

These hornbills usually congregate high up on trees, moving to the ground to catch prey or collect lumps of mud during the nesting season. For them to gather on the beach in such number – can it be that there is food on the beach and the birds are scavenging there?

In Pangkor Island, Malaysia, these hornbills are doing just that – residents feed them with leftover food to attract them as a tourist attraction.

However, our bird specialist R Subaraj has this to say: “Possible but unlikely as the cleaners regularly remove all rubbish from there. Unless they were finding food brought in by the tide. Why so late then (low tide?)… just before roosting. They do probably gather and roost communally as I have seen a flock of 19 birds in a single flock at dawn… also at the police post. They possibly roost somewhere near there.”

When queried further, Angie has this to add; “We were on the jetty waiting to return to Changi when we saw the wave of hornbills descending on the rocks. They didn’t show signs of foraging; after a minute or so they flew off to the coconut (Cocos nucifera) and Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa) trees; then they came back to the rocks and a few to the railing. A few guides went closer to observe them and took a count, but the hornbills just moved about, flew to the trees and congregated on the beach again. We left the jetty a while later.”

Well, this may be a pre-roosting spot…

Angie Ng & R Subaraj
February 2008

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

7 Responses

  1. Hi Angie, it’s really amazing to see the hornbill partying on the beach. Thank you for sharing this wonderful photo.

    Yes, it’s the nesting season. Probably these are all males collecting mud for the nest. So at least we know there are 15 pairs. (male and female)

    Previously we were wondering where these male collect their mud?

    We did spot a nest yesterday where the male hornbill brought in mud and food for the female waiting in her nest. Surprisingly this nest was not on Ubin Island but in Singapore mainland.


  2. wow! the photos are so clear and the birds did not seem to notice you. i am doing a project about these birds in school and the information given just makes me want to continue reading!may i ask if they are endangered?i would love to read more about them.

  3. Please check “hornbills” under CATEGORIES on the left to see the many postings, differences between the sexes and nesting periods.

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