The father hornbill works diligently to feed his family during the breeding season

Every hour during the spring breeding season, a male oriental pied hornbill takes a foraging tour around its nest and flies away. His wife and newly hatched babies are waiting inside to eat. The diligent father bears fruit in its large beak and returns again and again to its nest until nightfall.

The repeated process was filmed by bird lover Fang Qiaoran in Yingjiang County, southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

Oriental pied hornbills are distinguished by their large yellow beaks and a yellow or white helmet with a large black patch. Like most other hornbills, they build their nest in the middle of a tree. After mating, the females remain in the nest to hatch the babies, while the males seal the nest with mud, leaving only a small opening. The females are confined for more than two months. During this time, she and the new chicks depend on the male as a food source until the chicks leave the nest.

According to Ban Dingying, president of the birdwatching association in Yingjiang, compared to other hornbills that feed about every three hours, male pied hornbills are more hardworking, probably because they have to raise more chicks.

“Other hornbills, such as great hornbills and crowned hornbills, have only one new chick per year, but our observation over the years shows that eastern pied hornbills have two or three per year, which means the father will just have to work harder to provide food,” Ban said.

The bird, listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is found in the rainforest of southwestern China.

(All images are by Fang Qiaoran)

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