Boxed In: The Breeding Secrets of Wrinkled Hornbills
Published: Sep 30, 2015Imagine you are a mother-to-be. You lock yourself in your bedroom and your partner passes you food under the door. You don't come out until the kids are nearly grown-up. That's how wrinkled hornbills do it!
Imagine you are a mother-to-be. You lock yourself in your bedroom and your partner passes you food under the door. You don't come out until the kids are nearly grown-up. That's how wrinkled hornbills do it!
Wrinkled hornbills are monogamous and remain as a pair for life. What makes them particularly interesting is that when nesting, the female will cover over the entrance to the nest with mud and droppings from the inside, leaving a small hole. The female is effectively sealed inside the nest with a slit about half an inch wide to receive food through. The male takes sole responsibility for bringing food to the nest, which he does by regurgitating pieces of food and passing them to the female through the small hole. During this time the female lays two eggs and incubates them for 30 days. Once the chicks are born the adult male can make up to 70 feeding trips a day. After around 75 days the female will then 'break out' of the nest.
Paignton Zoo currently has two (adult) pairs of wrinkled hornbills (Aceros corrugatus). One pair is currently rearing two chicks. The footage in the video below shows the male feeding the nesting female and her chicks through the nest opening. If you listen carefully you can hear the chicks.
Jo Gregson, Paignton Zoo's Curator of Birds, is the European Endangered Species Programme's (EEP) studbook keeper for all wrinkled hornbills kept in EAZA (European Association of Zoos And Aquariums) collections. The role includes making recommendations for young hornbills to be paired with the most suitable companion in order to keep the programme viable. Wrinkled hornbills live for a long time and are slow breeders, so it is a very long term programme, however it is going very well at the present time.