Hornbill, caterpillars and mangrove tree at Pulau Ubin

Ria Tan of  Wildshores of Singapore shared her post on the Oriental Pied Hornbills with BESGroup and we have reproduced her article below.

Ripping caterpillar pupae off a Perepat mangrove tree.

We watched this Oriental pied hornbill‘s fascinating behaviour from Ubin Jetty.

The bird grabbed and ripped off the pupa.

Then hopped over to a broader branch. Where it proceeded to ‘wipe’ the pupa along the sides of the rough bark.

Here’s a closer look. Many times, the bird dropped the pupa before it could it eat. Butter bill? Or were the pupae unsuitable for eating?

About half of this Perepat tree was without leaves. Were the leaves eaten by the caterpillars that eventually pupated?

I also saw caterpillars eating up almost all the leaves on the Perepat tree growing on Pulau Sekudu (a small island off Pulau Ubin near Chek Jawa) in Aug 2013.

A closer look at the caterpillars on Pulau Sekudu.

A closer look at the pupa and caterpillars on Pulau Sekudu in Jul 2013.

I still don’t know what kind of caterpillar this is. Are these the same as the pupa that the hornbill was ripping off at Ubin Jetty?

The trees had regained their leaves when I next visited Pulau Sekudu in Jun 2014.

So much more to discover and learn about our mangroves and animals that depend on them!

This post is a cooperative effort between Wildshores of Singapore and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.

  1. Adrian Chan

    The caterpillars in the above picture belong to the Lappet moth family (Lasiocampidae) , a family of moths whose caterpillars possess long urticating hairs ( I have never encountered one in my whole life though). Therefore it is possible that the hairs on the cocoon could have been a hindrance to the hornbill while it was trying to eat it.

    Hope this is helpful.

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