“Earlier this month, Ch’ng Eng Hock and his family posted a beautiful set of photos of the group of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) that visited their condominium at The Sterling LINK. There were queries from other visitors to this website as to whether or not Hornbills would become established in the Bukit Timah, Bukit Batok and Clementi area.
“I asserted quite emphatically that they would.
“I am now able to share the reasons for my confidence. Some years back, a friend reported that hornbills were regular visitors to his bungalow in Bukit Timah, located not too far from The Sterling.
“Being an experienced aviculturalist, he provided food to keep them around, and set up a suitable nest box in a tree on his property. The parent birds recently raised one batch of youngsters. The timing of their arrival coincided with the report from Mr Ch’ng. I have examined my friend’s photographs closely for identifying details such as marks or scars on the beaks and bare facial skin, but cannot say with confidence that this group is the same one that visits the Ch’ng family at The Sterling.
“Still, we now have unequivocal evidence that hornbills do breed in the Bukit Timah area. And, as the latest photo shows, of the female entering the nest box again, they are getting ready to raise another batch of chicks.
“As is usual with many species, when the parents prepare to nest again, the youngsters from the previous batch will be booted out from the home range, and will have to establish their own territories. So it won’t be too long before a couple of young hornbills will go househunting in the Bukit Timah area.
“Anyone prepared to provide alternative accommodation? All they ask is a well-constructed nest box securely placed in a high tree.”
Lee Chiu San
23rd December 2014