Creature Feature: Palawan Hornbill

Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei)

The Palawan hornbill, locally called “kalaw”, is a medium-sized hornbill with all-black plumage apart from the white tail. Males have a pale ivory-yellow casque and bill with a black base to lower mandible, bare skin around the eye, and reddish-brown eyes with a black orbital ring. Females are smaller, with a smaller casque and bill with a grayish wash, and with dark grey-brown eyes.

It is a noisy bird that inhabits all storeys of forests, including secondary growth. It has also been found in mangroves, cultivated land, and bushlands close to forests. It is endemic to Palawan, found only on the Calamian group of islands (Busuanga, Calawit, Culion, except Coron), mainland Palawan, and the Balabac group of islands. The Palawan hornbill is diurnal and begins its day at first light.

The Palawan hornbill feeds mainly on fruits but insects and lizards have been recorded in its diet. They usually forage in small groups at any level (from canopy to ground). The groups are detected by flapping noises or by their trumpeting parrot-like calls in 1, 2, or 3 notes (kuk kuk kak or kuk kak ka).

The Palawan hornbill is classified as “Vulnerable” due to habitat loss, hunting for food and sport, and trapping for the wildlife trade.

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