1994 sighting of the Great Hornbill remembered

posted in: Hornbills | 0

Ben drew my attention to the 2004 special issue of the journal, Bird Conservation International. This special issue, dedicated to the conservation of hornbills, carries some of the many papers read at the Third International Hornbill Workshop held in Phuket, Thailand in 2001.

Ben e-mailed me, “I just came across a bit of interesting trivia from an introduction page of a special supplement of Bird Conservation International dedicated to the conservation of hornbills… Dec 2004. Vol 14 Supplement S1:S3. The excerpt that caught my attention was this:

“’This volume is dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Glassco Hudson (1956– 2002). One of Lis’ most powerful and exhilarating experiences was in Singapore, in 1994, when a Great Indian Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) flew just over her head, making that sound that only hornbill wings can make. She stood in that bird’s wake, mesmerized.’

“Interesting, isn’t it? Considering that it is one of our non-native birds that had a mesmerizing effect on a visitor. The Great Indian Hornbill is a synonym for the Great Hornbill.”

The Great Hornbill, also known as the Great Indian Hornbill, is native to Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and northwards to the southern Himalayas.

Great Hornbills are escapees in Singapore. It was the fashion to keep such birds once and there were probably a number of smuggled birds in Singapore then. A few escaped, or were they released, for one reason or another? Anyway, from the above account, at least one bird was around as far back as 1994.

A pair of Great died in the island of Sentosa many years ago, when poison was commonly used to control the rat population there. A bird was also sighted in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, checking out a nesting hole

Currently, only a single Great Hornbill remains, causing much excitement among the urban population when it visits their homes – see here: 1, 2 and 3.

In 2006 a Great and a Rhinoceros (B. rhinoceros), both female, were seen in Eng Neo prospecting a nesting hole in an old tree – see here: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

YC Wee
May 2008

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