A Great-Rhinoceros Hornbill hybrid

posted in: Hornbills, Miscellaneous | 3

The courtship rituals of the pair of Great Hornbill (Buceros bicronis) (above left) and Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) (above right) at Eng Neo during 2006-7 intrigued many Singaporean birders and provided subjects for many bird photographers. Besides being of two different species, both the birds are female.

Apparently, mating between these two species is nothing new. In southern Thailand two hybrid offspring were found, a result of a cross between a male Rhinoceros and a females Great Hornbill. The hybrid juveniles were captured in 2004 and 2008. One of the suspected parents, the female Great, was also captured, but not the male Rhinoceros. Blood samples were taken, after which the birds were released.

Genetic analyses showed that the Great is the maternal parent of both hybrid juveniles. As the male Rhinoceros was not captured, it could not be established conclusively that he is the paternal parent. However, as hornbills generally mate for life, the authors assume that this particular Rhinoceros Hornbill would probably be the father.

Hybridisation between different species of the same genus is not uncommon among birds and hornbill is no exception. The probable causes of interspecific hybridisation are stress due to habitat fragmentation and low population density.

Images by YC.

Siriphatr Chamutpong, Wutthipong Charoennitkul, Pilai Poonswad & Mathurose Ponglikitmongkol: A hybrid between Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) in the wild of southern Thailand: The impact from habitat fragmentation. Paper presented at the 5th Intn. Hornbill Conference, Singapore, March 2009.

Follow 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.

3 Responses

  1. Jun Ying

    Great post! Is it known if the offspring are reproductively viable?

  2. hybridisation

    […] (required) Website. Electronic Arts (EA) been throwing punches at Modern Warfare 2 for sometime …Bird Ecology Study Group A Great-Rhinoceros Hornbill hybridHybridisation between different species of the same genus is not … The probable causes of […]

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