For the month of February, National Museum Bohol feature the love life of the Southern Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus) known locally as Kalaw.
The Rufous Hornbill is a large species of Hornbill that is endemic to the Philippines.
The species is recorded in forests from sea level up to 1,500 meters. At least three sub-species are recognized for the Rufous hornbill, namely: the Buceros hydrocorax hydrocorax of Luzon, the B.h.semigaleatus of Samar, Leyte and Bohol and B.h. mindanensis of Mindanao and its satellite islands (i.e. Dinagat, Siargao, Talicud and others).
The Rufous hornbill from Luzon is the largest and is distinguished from the rest of the subspecies by the color of its bill (entirely red) and shape of its casque. In contrast, the Southern Rufous hornbill has narrower bill with red base and ivory tip. Rufous Hornbill’s are monomorphic, meaning both male and female are similar in appearance. Though if closely compared, males are slightly larger in size than females.
The parenting behaviour of the Rufous Hornbill or the Philippine Hornbill involves extraordinary sacrifice for the benefit of its family which make them an outstanding father in the avian species.
The hornbill’s love story begins with the male demonstrating fitness to be chosen by the female and then offering gifts of figs and fruits to the female to strengthen the bond which leads to mating and breeding. When females conceive, they will look for a hole in the trees to become their nesting place. The female will seal herself inside the cavity and the male will get mud and dirt from nearby riverbanks to cover the opening of the hole leaving only a small opening for the feeding of the nesting female and the future offspring. The male flies in and out of the tree to get food for their ration feeding.
Sometimes, the hornbill of the same family group help in feeding the female and the young in the nest. The female will break the nest when the nestling is partially grown.
Currently, the Southern Rufous Hornbill is classified under CITES II of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
Text by NMP Bohol with contributions from Rolly Urriza | NMP Zoology Division