Oriental Pied Hornbill manipulating hairy caterpillar

on 16th April 2008


In March 2008, Allan Teo sent in an image of an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) manipulating a hairy caterpillar. The hornbill was observed rubbing the caterpillar against a tree branch to rid it of the hairs before swallowing it. Or is it to remove the stomach contents?

HornbillOP-rubbing cat [AllanTeo]

Allan also provided a file, showing the bird doing just that (above).

The hairs of such caterpillars can be irritating to predators, many of which simply leave them alone. However, some birds are capable of handling them and the hornbill is obviously one of them.

The Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus) is reported not to be bothered by the hairs – they line the stomach to be eventually regurgitated as a pellet. Swiping the hairy caterpillar is not to remove the hairs but to empty the gut contents. Other birds squeezes out the stomach contents before swallowing the caterpillar.

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

2 Responses

  1. Great images – I love Hornbills they are amazing birds. I was lucky to see several species while living in South Africa. I would have to say that Ground Hornbill are my favorite!

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