Site Meter

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What do hornbills eat?

What do hornbills eat?

Most Asian hornbills are omnivorous, taking both plant and animal foods. However, there is a preference for fruits and small animals. And figs are the favourite, although there are reports of them feeding on rambutans (Nephelium lappaceum) as well as a great array of forest fruits.

Animals are taken by hornbills, especially during the breeding season. These include scorpions, lizards, geckos, skinks, earthworms, frogs, caterpillars, beetles, butterflies, cicadas, grasshoppers…

Great Hornbills (Buceros bicronis) feed primarily on fruits, especially figs. But they also hunt actively for small animals like snakes, lizards, bird nestlings and eggs, beetles and insects.

Figs are consumed at a rate of about 200 per sitting. The figs are delicately picked with the tips of their mandibles. But not larger figs like those of Roxburg’s fig (Ficus auriculata) (above). These are not swallowed whole but rather eaten piece by piece. Tan Teo Seng, who has a fruit farm in Kota Tinggi, Johor, reports that flocks of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) invade these trees whenever they are covered with figs.

When hornbills swallow fruits with large seeds, these seeds are regurgitated up to an hour later undamaged. Sometimes seeds are also passed through the digestive tract, which is the case with figs as the seeds are extremely small. As such, hornbills are good seed dispersers of forest plants.

Thanks to Tan Teo Seng for his input. Image of Oriental Pied Hornbill by HK Tang and of Roxburg's fig by YC.

Labels: ,

10 Comments:

At 2:08 am, Blogger danielkoh said...

Hi there, the Oriental Pied Hornbill shown in the picture is feeding on Ficus superba fruits (sea fig).

 
At 10:01 am, Blogger YC said...

Thanks for the fig ID, danielk.

 
At 2:23 pm, Blogger Jun Ying said...

I personally have seen an Oriental Pied Hornbill with a changeable lizard in its mouth. True, but astonishing nevertheless.It was "scouting" around my school campus, but left after a few days

 
At 7:55 pm, Anonymous Robert Teo said...

Thru Singapore Hornbill Project at Ubin, video footage showed diet includes Changeable Lizard and Cave Nectar Bat (new bat record for Ubin!) Hornbills in Ubin have been observed eating banana, rambutan, papaya, jambul bol, fish-tail palm.

 
At 3:37 pm, Blogger YC said...

Mighty interesting diet. Thanks Robert for the info.

 
At 3:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hornbill at Tasman serasi came to my balcony and eaten up the green pigeon egg and once a young chick. How do I protect my dear lovely wild pigeon? Any suggestion please!

 
At 3:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hornbill at Tasman serasi came to my balcony and eaten up the green pigeon egg and once a young chick. How do I protect my dear lovely wild pigeon? Any suggestion please!

 
At 5:02 pm, Anonymous YC said...

Not sure what you can do other than chase the hornbill away whenever it visits. This is nature at its wildest...

 
At 12:07 am, Anonymous Chuang said...

Thanks YC for responding. I was thinking of chasing it away to save the eggs but looking at the size of the hornbill I am afraid it may attack me instead. Does hornbill attack human?i

 
At 12:39 am, Blogger YC said...

Yes, you can chase it away. It will generally not attack people, unless it is cornered.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter Amfibi Directory Singapore Blogger Organisation