Saturday, April 28, 2012

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

Great Hornbills rule the roost

The Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Thailand's oldest and best-known national park. It is an ecological wonderland and boasts some 390 bird species. I am told it is larger than Singapore.

As for the bird life there, the king of them all for me is the Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

Length: 95-105 cm
Poids: Male - 26-34 kg; Female - 21.5-33.5 kg

Feeding the young inside a hollow of the tree trunk, Papa (left) with fruit in beak while Mummy gives instructions.

The Great Hornbill is the largest of the hornbills. They form life-long monogamous relationships.

Their distinctive call "kok kok" resonates through the valleys and hence are easier to spot.

Breeding pairs forage for food together and the feeding interval is about an hour. It is interesting to note that the female (whitish eyes and has less black on the casque than the male) arrives first but she waits in a neighbouring tree for the male, which is larger and has red eyes, to fly in. It is always a breathtaking sight to see this huge bird land, it was almost like watching an airplane land accompanied with the whooshing sound made with the flapping of its large wings. 

Interestingly, the male will feed the young first standing on the perch outside the nest. It regurgitates many berries and fruit (see photo above) and pokes its head into the narrow cavity of the tree trunk to feed. The female waits here turn on a lower brand. She feeds her young with insects which provide protein and calcium (picture on the right). The order of feeding may indicate what type of food should be ingested first.

Do watch the videos on the feeding process.

1. Papa feeding young with fruit:

2. Mummy waiting her turn:

3. Mummy feeding her young with insects:

4. Mummy's off to forage:

At another location, a lone male was spotted feeding fruit to the nesting female inside the tree trunk. It coughed out at least 20 berries. It, too, foraged for about an hour before returning to the tree to feed its mate, which has sealed herself and her young in with a barrier made mainly with faeces.


All Wild said...

oh, nice, lovely. I want.

Unknown said...

All Wild, a friend just told me he saw many Great Hornbills at Lake Kenyir in Malaysia.