Oriental Pied Hornbills in my garden!

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 first started taking pictures at a distant, to see whether they were comfortable with my presence and out of fear that they would fly away! Surprisingly, they only gave me a few glances and didn’t seem to bother! 

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!



Aren’t they adorable?

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.


The female watching as her husband flies off

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!


The majestic and caring male


The male hornbill looking curiously at me with my camera!

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!

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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!



22 thoughts on “Oriental Pied Hornbills in my garden!

  1. What fantastic birds. I didn’t know about their nesting habits. It seems like quite a risky strategy, particularly if something happened to the male. I wonder if the female has to build up her muscles again before she can fly?

    1. Hi Nick! Their nesting habits are quite interesting and risky, that’s true! Yes, the female must have to build up her muscles after staying in the nest for so long! They are also secondary cavity nesters, meaning that they typically do not excavate their own nesting sites but use those created by other birds or by branches breaking off. Conservation efforts in Singapore have thus involved creating artificial nest boxes for them to nest in!

  2. What a surreal moment to see these magnificent birds in a densely populated areas. I am guessing they may have been nesting in the tiny Clementi woods. Thankyou Lavanya for the magnificent pictures and an insight in nesting habits of these birds. We humans can take a leaf out of their habits and try and emulate such a caring relationship with our partners.

    1. Hi Vandana aunty, thank you so much for your kind words and for supporting my blog so much! Yes, they must have been nesting in Clementi woods or at Kent Ridge park because they are canopy-dwelling birds. It was so surreal, for sure, and we felt so blessed to have an encounter with them! 🙂

    1. Hi Syliva, thank you for stopping by my blog! Yes it was so surreal to witness these beautiful birds in such close proximity!

    1. Thank you so much Ria! I was sooo surprised to have these beautiful creatures in my own garden and I felt so lucky to be able to capture special moments between them 🙂

  3. Wonderfully Glad that they are thriving in our small island! Just thinking if we can start planing more fruit trees that can sustain them, so that they have a means of survival. Thanks.

    1. Thank you Raymond! 🙂 I feel so glad that they are being sighted more often and their numbers are increasing. Yes, perhaps, and with continued conservation efforts by NParks with the nesting boxes will ensure they continue to thrive! Thanks again for reading my post and leaving a comment 🙂

  4. What an amazing experience! To have endangered birds feeding in your own garden, and to witness such intimate behavior…this must’ve been a real treat! I’m glad that sightings of these extraordinary hornbills are becoming more common 🙂

    1. Hi Josh, yes it was such an incredible experience.. especially since I have had a huge fascination for them from the first time I saw them! It is amazing that they are being revived in Singapore despite rapid urbanization. They are such beautiful creatures! 🙂

  5. Great blog Lavanya. You’re a gifted photographer! I’m sure your curiosity will take you to unexpected and amazing places in life 🙂

    1. Hi Tushar, Wow! What a lucky encounter. Thank you so much for sharing with me the pictures and video of the hornbill. I’m actually doing a school project on hornbills, so do you mind if I use the pictures, only for education purposes? Thanks again for sharing the sighting.

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