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HORNBILLS MOVE INTO SUBURBAN SINGAPORE

on 26th December 2014

“Earlier this month, Ch’ng Eng Hock and his family posted a beautiful set of photos of the group of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) that visited their condominium at The Sterling LINK. There were queries from other visitors to this website as to whether or not Hornbills would become established in the Bukit Timah, Bukit Batok and Clementi area.

“I asserted quite emphatically that they would.

“I am now able to share the reasons for my confidence. Some years back, a friend reported that hornbills were regular visitors to his bungalow in Bukit Timah, located not too far from The Sterling.

“Being an experienced aviculturalist, he provided food to keep them around, and set up a suitable nest box in a tree on his property. The parent birds recently raised one batch of youngsters. The timing of their arrival coincided with the report from Mr Ch’ng. I have examined my friend’s photographs closely for identifying details such as marks or scars on the beaks and bare facial skin, but cannot say with confidence that this group is the same one that visits the Ch’ng family at The Sterling.

“Still, we now have unequivocal evidence that hornbills do breed in the Bukit Timah area. And, as the latest photo shows, of the female entering the nest box again, they are getting ready to raise another batch of chicks.

“As is usual with many species, when the parents prepare to nest again, the youngsters from the previous batch will be booted out from the home range, and will have to establish their own territories. So it won’t be too long before a couple of young hornbills will go househunting in the Bukit Timah area.

“Anyone prepared to provide alternative accommodation? All they ask is a well-constructed nest box securely placed in a high tree.”

Lee Chiu San
Singapore
23rd December 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.

Other posts by YC Wee

7 Responses

  1. I have seen Oriental Pied Hornbills on Holland Hill, where I live, on 4 occasions in the past 6 months. On Feb 5-6, 2015, there were 7 and 9 birds spending time in the trees and traveling as a group. I have entered all observations into eBird.

    I wonder if there is a nest box nearby? Is the Singapore Hornbill Project still active?

  2. Why not put up your own nest box, as my friend did, and watch hornbills breed within your own home? If there is something, such as food, to attract birds to your place, some will breed within three meters of frequent human activity. On this website, I have already posted pictures of bulbuls, sunbirds and waterhens breeding within my own garden. I have other friends who put up nest boxes that attracted starlings, rose-breasted parakeets and on one occasion, even a pair of Hill Mynahs.

    Anybody can achieve wild bird breeding within the home as long as you have about 100 square meters of space to set up a fairly private nature area.

    Even if you do not happen to live in a landed property, if you are successful in getting the hornbills to visit your premises regularly, as our friends at The Sterling did, you can try locating a nest box on your balcony. Bird fancier friends who have been to places where hornbills scrounge food from tourists, say that even wild hornbills can become very self-confident when they are not harassed.

  3. This evening as I was returning from Linden Drive I noticed a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills. They were flying together in the vicinity of Oriole Crescent, and the female actually flew very close to me and was only 3 – 4 metres away on a low branch and stared at me inquisitively – a unique experience in the heart of suburban Singapore.

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