Southern Ground-hornbill of South Africa

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“Want to share this rare sighting in South Africa. We were in the game reserve when we spotted this rare Souther Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri). Pretty huge bird, adult size can go up to 4ft long.

“The unique part of this bird as we later understood from the rangers was, this hornbill is a triennial breeder. This means it would only lay eggs every 3 years only. And that is, if they ‘feel like it’ i.e. not all of them will breed every 3 yrs. But 3 in the minimum time they need to spread before laying the next egg.

“Also each time they lay, its usually one or two only, no more than that. Funny thing is also when both eggs manage to hatch, the mother hornbill will specially pick one (don’t know using what criteria) and care for it whereas the other chick will be left to fend for itself. It turns out that most often than not, the chick that is not cared for will die after less than 2 weeks leaving behind only one baby.

“In captivity, they can live up to more than 60 yrs old! Yet, this is one of those bird species that are going extinct due to their breeding habits.”

CK Kim
Singapore
23rd January 2015

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