Locked up with the kids !

Hornbill nesting ritual

yellow billed horn bill

A bill with a difference.

There are various species of Hornbills that are found in sub-saharan Africa, Asia and Melanesia (Melanesia covers Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia).

Hornbills are the only birds that have the first and second vertebrae fused together, probably in order to support the large bill.

When breeding time arrives the female finds a nesting site which is usually a crack in a rock face or a hole in a tree and then starts to close up the opening using mud and droppings. The male then brings her food which consists of fruit, insects and even small animals.

To dispose of waste the mother points her rear to to the opening and shoots her excrement out. Until the young have acquired the habit she will pick up their waste and dispose of it through the slit. This practice of shooting the excrement out probably confuses predators.

Once in the nest, the female sheds her wing and tail feathers and remains there until the young are fledglings. Then they break out of the nest to begin their adventure.

For more a comprehensive report on the subject refer to the thesis by Michael Joseph Finnie.

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