Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update on Piasau Camp's Pied Hornbill Family

Checking out a tree cavity.

"In September, I was convinced that the Piasasu Camp hornbills were getting ready to nest in their usual place at house no. xx.

Several times I saw the male and the female near the ground level hole in the tree - with the male poking his head in and out, and removing bits of debris. I returned to the site very few days expecting to see her entering the hole and starting to block herself in - but for weeks it never happened.

On one occasion I saw them both together, seemingly inspecting and evaluating a hole about 10m off the ground in a casuarina tree near house 1xx, and I wondered if they were considering"moving house", but I never saw them at that site again.

Yesterday my friends who live at house no. xy told me that for the past 4 days or so the hornbills have been preparing to nest at their house. When we arrived, indeed, we found both the male and the female going in and out of the hole pictured here. It is about 1.5-2m above groundlevel.

Yesterday we saw the male picking out debris - but also apprently collecting bits of wood and bark and putting them into the hole. She was in the hole for a while, but then spent a couple hours perched on a jungle gym or a branch near the house.

At one point the male swooped down into bush just inches away from where the kids were sitting eating ice cream and plucked a sparrow out of the bush. He then spent the next 15 minutes shaking the sparrow and apparently trying to "tenderize it" or make it more appealing to the female who was perched on a branch near the potential nest site. She didn't appear to be interested in the end, and they dropped the (dead) sparrow to the ground.

This morning I went back and as you can see from the two photos attached, she seems to be settling into the hole. I will keepreturning with my camera and video - as I would love to catch some footage of her making the paste that she uses to close up the hole, as I once saw her do it a couple years ago."

Trying out the new home for size.

Fieldnotes and photos by:
Dr Gianna Minton/MNS Miri/Resident Piasau Camp/Nov 2010

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