The Oriental Pied Hornbill and the Changeable Lizard

on 13th December 2014

Chan Boon Hong earlier posted in “Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia” HERE an image of a male Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) with a Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicola) clamped tightly between his mandibles (above). The posting was well received and Boon Hong subsequently agreed to share the story behind the single image with a larger audience. Thus this post.

The encounter was at Bidadari Park in early December 2014. The male hornbill had just caught the Changeable Lizard that was struggling desperately to free itself. The hornbill was holding on to the lizard by one of its toes and this allowed the latter to struggle free (above, below).

The lizard fell about 10m to the ground, slightly injured but free (below).

Meanwhile, up in the tree, the hornbill caught another lizard. This time he had his grip right. His mandibles were firmly clamped onto the lizard’s body (below).

The lizard was swiped against the branch until it was dead (below).

Normally the hornbill would manipulate the prey such that he could swallow it head-first. But this time he was probably in a courting mode. So it offered the morsel to his mate (below).

The Changeable Lizard is commonly seen in open urban areas and sometimes also in forest clearings. It is an “illegal immigrant” that sneaked into the country either with the help of humans or accidentally together with imported goods. It was first sighted in the 1980s and has since become widespread.

As with many introduced species, its presence has displaced the native Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) as it is more aggressive. This invasive lizard has been reported killing a female Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) LINK.

During the breeding season the male Changeable Lizard puts on a bright vermillion head and shoulders and a black throat – see HERE.

Chan Boon Hong
November 2014

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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