Picture taken by Lusinda Oosthuizen
When our two Southern ground-hornbills were still juveniles, a pair of wild hornbills adopted them and took it upon themselves to ensure that the youngsters were properly fed.
They would arrive each day with tasty morsels, which they would then feed the young birds through the fence.
Now that our birds are adults the wild hornbills still visit regularly, but they’ve since cottoned on to the fact that it’s much easier to barter than to forage. So now they bring our birds bits of plastic and other nesting goodies in exchange for a piece of chicken.
It’s not exactly a fair trade, but it seems to make our birds happy. And they don’t eat the plastic offerings, which is a good thing!
When there’s a tour going through the Centre they’ll often come running over with their newly acquire bits and bobs in firmly clasped in their bills. They enjoy showing off and sharing, so after first strutting up and down they then hand it to me through the aviary fence.
It’s almost as if they’re spring-cleaning.
We also have two breeding pairs of wild ground-hornbills, as well as a Marabou stork that has started making its nest on top of our aviary. This unlikely combination has resulted in South Africa’s ugliest bird above, and its most peculiar one below.
by Erika Labaschagne – Field Guide at HESC 😉