Oriental Pied Hornbill feeding on a spider

on 16th January 2011

Dr Tan Heok Hui documented a male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) feeding on a golden orb spider (Araneidae: Nephila pilipes) at Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 1st July 2010.

The hornbill found his way onto a trunk of a mangrove tree, broke off some small branches and proceeded to snap in the air at an unseen object. It was only when Heok Hui focused his camera on the bill did he realise that the hornbill had caught a large golden orb spider. “The hornbill proceeded to manipulate the hapless spider in its bill (above), crunching it a few times (audibly), before finally consuming it.”

Thereafter the hornbill proceeded to preen itself.

Image by Dr Tan Heok Hui.

Tan, H. H., 2010. Spider-feeding behaviour of the oriental pied hornbill. Nature in Singapore, 3: 283-286.

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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

3 Responses

  1. On the phenology of the Nephila spiders, what I see is that there are periods when few or no spiders of any size can be found in suitable habitat (mangrove and forest fringes with gaps between the vegetation for webs). Thereafter, juveniles (less than a inch long) appear in good numbers and a few months after that full sized adults become common sightings. The spiders spin their webs both near ground level and closer to the canopy) and though adults could be part of the diet of hornbills at Sg Buloh, I doubt the birds influence the spiders’ population much though, as they are fairly common by the trails, save the periodic absences.

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