Friday, June 13, 2008

Changi cockatoos and hornbills

During a low tide walk last week at Changi, not only did we marvel at the rich biodiversity of the shore during super low tide, we also encountered several beautiful birds like the cockatoos and hornbills.

We spotted three Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini) foraging for food at the grassland. According to The Exotic Village Birds of Changi! by Subaraj Rajathurai:

"You may have heard some exotic screeching in Changi Viillage as you tucked into a meal after some hearty explorations in Ubin. Well, wonder no more, and soon you will have a better idea of what to look out for!

The cockatoo at Changi Village is the Tanimbar Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini). There are usually about 5 birds around the village Angsana trees along the main road and they actually nest in tree holes of a couple of those trees.

There are up to 20 Tanimbar Cockatoos in the Loyang/Changi area. Elsewhere in Singapore, there are a few populations of the Tanimbar Cockatoo including about 40 on Sentosa. The Tanimbar Cockatoo is native only to the Tanimbar Islands of Wallacea"

The Tanimbar Cockatoo in Singapore feeds on the fruits of various trees in particular the Sea Almond (Terminalia catappa) which these birds are picking from the ground. Although these cockatoos are not native here, Singapore has become the most accessible place to see this species in the wild. :-)

I love this photograph shot, with two cockatoos doing the same action with the sea almond fruits.

Soon, they flew to the trees as we approached a little too near them.

Don't you think they are darlings? :-)

At another part of Changi, we found even more spectacular birds, hornbills!

According to Ria's online guide to Chek Jawa, the Oriental pied-hornbills (Anthracoceros albirostris) are the only truly wild hornbills found on Singapore. "Unlike most other hornbills, Oriental pied-hornbills can be found outside primary rainforests and may visit inhabited areas to feed on fruit. But they still depend on large living trees for nesting sites." Adelle told me there are hornbills flying over from Ubin to Changi and I guess these hornbills I've seen are from Ubin.

The Oriental pied-hornbill is basically a black-and-white bird: mostly black with a white belly and thighs, and white accents around the eye, on the wing tips and tail.

Oriental pied-hornbills often forage in pairs or small groups, often rather quietly for such large birds.

The Oriental pied-hornbill plays an important role in the health of the forest as it disperses seeds that are too big for smaller birds to eat.

Hornbills eat mainly fruit, but they also take insects and small animals including reptiles, birds and mammals.

What a wonderful morning out at Changi to be with these birds!

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