We were recently visited by a local indigenous community member with the exciting news that a hornbill nest had been found. This is part of a scheme that pays local community members for providing information on hornbill nests so we can then monitor their breeding behaviour.
Thanks to Pak Ajer we were taken to a nest tree that turned out to contain a female Bushy-crested Hornbill Anorrhinus galeritus and at least one chick. When ready to lay eggs, the female will seal herself into a tree hole using mud, leaving a small hole through which she can receive food. Female hornbills must rely on their mate to provide food for her and the chicks. However, for the Bushy-crested Hornbill, it is not only the male that provides food but also offspring from previous years.
We have been able to sit and watch this wonderful spectacle for many hours, seeing several birds delicately passing fruit through the hole to the waiting female. Pak Ajer told us that this nest had been active for around 4 weeks, which means we expect the female and chicks to break out from the nest in another 8-9 weeks.
Camera trap images are often of large charismatic mammals, but during the last 14 months of camera trapping surveys we have come to realise the value of this equipment for collecting information on birds too, specifically the galliformes or ‘gamebirds’. So far we have recorded the globally-threatened Crestless Fireback Lophura erythropthalma, the near threatened Great Argus Argusianus argus and Crested Partridge Rollulus rouloul, and Red Jungle Fowl Gallus gallus, the wild ancestor of the domestic chicken. Interestingly we have yet to record the near-threatened Crested Fireback L. ignita, which is less rare than its crestless cousin.
Very little information exists for Crestless Fireback in Sumatra. We hope that our camera trap data will provide a better understanding of its abundance and distribution. This will support the conservation management of a species threatened by a reduction in the area and quality of lowland forest throughout its range in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.