Hornbills spotted at Commonwealth Crescent

Channel NewsAsia 14 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: A pair of hornbills were spotted at Commonwealth on Sunday (Nov 12), perched near an air-conditioner compressor on the 10th floor.

Channel NewsAsia reader Chia Mei Kim saw the birds at around 11.05am outside her unit in Block 108 Commonwealth Crescent, where they lingered for about 20 minutes.

This was the fourth or fifth sighting of hornbills in the area, Ms Chia said. She added that to her knowledge, residents have not attempted to interact with or feed the birds.

Ms Chia also said that she had encountered more hornbills in the Holland Village area in September this year.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, ornithologist David Tan identified the birds as oriental pied hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris).

Mr Tan added that hornbills have increased rather dramatically in number in recent years, partly due to the breeding programme by the National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and the ongoing nest box strategy by NParks. This is despite the species being extinct in Singapore as recently as the 1970s, he said.

Mr Tan said that he is unsure if hornbills favour a particular movement pattern, but added that they seem to be consistently found in certain areas such as Changi, Pulau Ubin, Holland Village and the Botanic Gardens.

He advised against interacting with the birds as hornbills are “fundamentally wild” and may “retaliate” if they feel threatened.

“Feeding wildlife is also unadvisable as it may alter the behavioural patterns of the hornbills. Regular feeding may increase the degree to which hornbills are dependent on humans, and overprovision of food may artificially inflate the hornbill population and cause these birds to become urban pests.”