An extremely rare Narcondam Hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami) that is confined to the Narcondam and Andaman Islands was photographed in early November 2008 at Singapore’s Bidadari Cemetery. This bird is obviously an escapee.
After its sighting was posted, Joseph Lai was the first to respond, saying that he “saw this hornbill… flew overhead minutes before Minister Mah Bow Tan arrived at Sungei Buloh to officiate its inauguration as a Wetland Reserve (year 2002).”
Summerian Turks then produced an image of another Narcondam Hornbill outside its large cage, taken last June at Dempsey Road (left top). He was wondering whether it is the same bird seen at Bidadari and Kent Ridge:
“The wings are clipped and I have seen it in the big cage with a Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) once… This bird belongs to the carpet shop at Dempsey Rd and this further confirms the origin of the species. The owner originates from the Indian subcontinent and has business dealings with folks from there as they are traditional carpet makers (as written in the shop). Chances of this specimen ending up in one of the shipment of carpets is highly plausible.
“The hornbill species imported are usually Blyth’s and they often come from Solomon Islands as I mentioned before. The Narcondam species is new to me as it is not regularly traded here. So I think it came specially for this shop rather than having been imported on a commercial scale.
“Hornbill as pets are rather common here as evident in all the escapees sighted so far. I just hope the species doesn’t get rarer the next time we spot them flying around the island.’
On 28th November, the bird was still hanging around Bidadari (left bottom). According to KC Tsang, the bird makes a loud sound reminding him of “the need for greasing the wings when it flies.”
Image of bird at Dempsey Road by Summerian Turks and at Bidadari by KC Tsang.