A baby great hornbill emerging from its nest is finally photographed


“Hard work pays off! We finally get it!” At about 10 am on July 6, nature photographers He Haiyan and Li Peng held hands excitedly to celebrate their capture of a great hornbill chick emerging from its nest. It is the first time that the great hornbill chick has been photographed in the wild environment of China. 



The great hornbill also known as the concave-casqued hornbill, great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family. It breeds in a unique way. Once courtship and mating are over, the female finds a tree hollow and seals herself in with dung and pellets of mud. She remains imprisoned there for the next 6 to 8 weeks to protect herself and chicks from yellow throat minks and snakes. During this period, she relies on the male to bring her food through a slit elaborately left on the nest until the chicks are half developed. After leaving, the female seals the nest again, and the chick will usually stay there for another one or two weeks. 



The female great hornbill photographed by He Haiyan and Li Peng in Tongbiguan Provincial Nature Reserve in Yunnan province entered her nest on March 5 and left on July 6, incubating for 123 days. But the chick stayed in the nest for more than five weeks after its mother’s departure, which sets a record for observation. In addition, female great hornbills have never been observed feeding their young after leaving the nest, but this one frequently fed her child, which provides valuable information for research on great hornbill. 


According to the IUCN Red List, the total Great hornbill population size is approximately 20,000-49,999 individuals, and currently this species is classified as vulnerable and its numbers today are decreasing. The abundance of great hornbills tends to be correlated with the density of large trees required for nesting and foraging, so it is often regarded as the criteria by which the the environment of tropical rainforests is assessed. 




“In these years, many different species of hornbills have been observed breeding in Yingjiang county, which indicates that the ecological environment here is well preserved” Pan Dingying, President of Yingjiang Bird Watching Association, said. 

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(Editors: Alison,Rachel)

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