Oriental Pied Hornbill nesting in earthern pot

on 7th March 2010

The Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) normally nests in tree cavities high up where it is safe from most predators – see here: 1 and 2. Lately, nesting boxes have been used in Singapore to provide scarce tree cavities for breeding.

On 20th February 2010, The Star Online carried a report of a pair of the convexus race using an earthen jar on the ground as a nest. This was in the rural village of Kampong Sungei Panjang in the Malaysian state of Selangor. The female hornbill apparently entered the jar which was lying on its side, sealed herself in with mud, leaving a narrow slit to communicate with her mate outside.

The male hornbill regularly flew to the jar to feed the female inside. But before flying to the ground, he would perch on the branch of a nearby tree to monitor human presence. Only when no one was near the jar would he fly down to feed the female inside the jar.

Food brought to the female included a centipede and palm oil fruits. This continued for about three months when the chick/s fledged. Obviously the villagers have learnt to coexist with the hornbills, not disturbing the breeding pair and allowing the breeding to complete its cycle.

This is not the first time the hornbills have nested in such a jar. Enggan, newsletter of the Malaysian Nature Society Bird Group had published an account of such an unusual nesting a few years earlier.

Image courtesy of The Star Online. Thanks to Allan Teo for alerting BESG to the account.

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

2 Responses

  1. I have been told by a Suara Enggang (Malaysian birding newsletter) editor that Anuar McAfee of Terennganu had reported Oriental Pied Hornbill nesting in a Tempayan (earthen pot/jar) in May 2006. This was reported in the July/August 2006 issue, p11-12. Unfortunately I don’t have access to that issue.

  2. Pingback: earthen pot

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