Oriental Pied Hornbill catches caterpillar

on 7th July 2009

“Was working on one of the tributaries of the Kinabatangan in Sabah when we came across a small flock of Oriental Pied Hornbills in the tree. We spotted one that was hopping around a small plant, looking at something. I noticed that hornbills do not seem to be able to look straight at an object like the way we humans do. It must be because of the huge cast, and bill that blocks a straight forward binocular view. So the bird had to kind of look at the caterpillar with a side glance, and than it moves and uses the other eye to look again at the prey which is at a very close range. Than finally it worked out the range and got the prey with a couple of pecks.

“Now having got the prey, it begins to rub, and hit the caterpillar on to the branch as though it has to remove those hairs that some caterpillars have. But this hawkmoth caterpillar does not seem to have hairs on it. So it must be a force of habit. So only after it is satisfied does the bird flips the prey into the air and catches it with its huge bill in the middle, swallowing the prey whole.”

KC Tsang
29th June 2009

Gan Cheong Weei identified the caterpillar as that of a hawkmoth and Dr Leong Tzi Ming confirmed it, adding that it most likely belongs to the hawkmoth family, Sphingidae.

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.

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