It was a surreal experience to have two Oriental Pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris), come to our very own garden. They are one of my favorite birds and I hope to see in every time I visit Sungei Buloh or Pulau Ubin, and suddenly there they were, sitting on our balcony for several minutes. We witnessed the pair sharing very special moments, before each of them, one by one, flew to the opposite condo to get more berries and then they flew off into the distance.
I was simply in disbelief when my sister told me to come to our garden because she had seen hornbills. I grabbed my camera, and from then on, my finger never left the camera button, because I wanted to capture every moment possible. I glanced up from my camera hole a few times, only to gasp in awe at the beauty of the birds- their majestic long and yellow bills, their large eyes and eyelashes, and their incredible black and white plumage.
I noticed one of the hornbills, presumably the male as it had a larger casque with few black marks had a berry in its mouth. Moments later..the male started feeding it to the female!
I’ve shared the significance of this special moment many times in my blog, but every time I do, I feel so excited to because its so lovely. Hornbills pair for life (they are monogamous) and the female seals herself in the nest for a period of 3-4 months to incubate her eggs without the threat of predators.
She is solely reliant on the male during that period to feed her and the chicks once they have hatched as the chicks stay in the nest with the female for several months until they are ready to fledge. The male often feeds the female berries to promise that he will take care of her needs, especially during the nesting period. I can’t get over how sweet that is!
After several minutes, the male hornbill flew off to the condominium opposite to ours and was then shortly followed by the female. We saw many people emerge to their balconies to watch and take pictures of these beauties!
It’s so amazing to see more of the hornbills.. especially because they are still endangered in Singapore. Thanks to conservation initiatives at Pulau Ubin and other parts in Singapore, these beautiful creatures are being sighted more often in Singapore. Let’s hope that there will be enough forest cover for these canopy-dwelling birds in the coming years, for I would be so upset if future generations could not see them!