Did You Know? Nesting habits of Hornbills

Once she has mated, the female hornbill looks for a hole in a tree to use as a nest.  Then, with help from her mate, she seals herself in the hole by covering the entrance with droppings and mud, leaving only a narrow slit.  The narrow slit reduces predation and stops other hole-nesting birds from taking over the nest.

While she is in the hole, she loses all her flight feathers and relies on her mate to bring her nest lining and food.  After the eggs start to hatch, the male continues to bring food to the female who in turn feeds the chicks. The female’s flight feathers grow back and about 16 days after hatching, she will break out of the nest.  Together with her mate and the chicks, they reseal the entrance.  Once the chicks’ flight feathers have grown, they will then break out of the nest – about 3 weeks after the female.  For a few days, they’ll stay close to the nest and forage with the adults before flying off to start their own lives.

Photo Credits: Richard Coke

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