Narcondam Hornbill: Addendum

on 8th December 2008

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.

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

9 Responses

  1. This is indeed quite disturbing that these hornbills are even available in the pet sphere, considering that it is difficult to even get permits to go to the island where they occur in the wild.

  2. A copy of my comment elsewhere, as it also applies here:

    This is a Papuan (Blyth’s) Hornbill. Contrary to the above suggestion [in the other post], the colour of the base of the bill is not reliable for separating this species from the Narcondam. This is mainly due to the variability in the bill of the Papuan (Blyth’s) Hornbill, which infrequently is described well in the literature. Based on the bill colour of this individual, it is likely to originate from the Solomons, as suggested by Summerian Turks. Females from e.g. Halmahera and New Guinea tend to have only a narrow band at the base of the bill, but considerable individual variation complicates the picture.

  3. I have spotted the “escapee” narcondam hornbill today (13 July 2013) in my garden (Mountbatten residence) on East Coast at Tanjong Katong. I was able to get a few quick snaps on my phone & a short video before he flew to a higher canopy and was no longer clearly visible.

  4. Hello,

    Not sure who to contact but I juts spotted one in a tree next to my terrace. (Orange Grove area). I took a picture of it in case you are interested.

    F. Wolff

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