The life of a female rufous-necked hornbill is an extraordinary one, as she spends four months of every year incarcerated within a nest in a hollow tree. With help from her mate, she seals herself into the hole, between 6 and 33 metres above the ground, using semi-digested leaves, oil globules, and regurgitated mud. A slit-shaped entrance is left through which the male feeds the female and their chicks, and the female defecates, creating a large pile of guano at the base of the tree. The female lays about two eggs in April which she incubates through the dry season so that hatching is synchronised with the onset of the rainy season. After a total of 125 days of incarceration, the female breaks the nest’s seal and leaves, the chicks following shortly afterwards (2) (4).
Searching for fruit in the canopy, the rufous-necked hornbill is thought to prefer nutmegs, pears and figs, but will rely on whichever plant species are fruiting at the time. It is also known to eat crabs, beetles, cicadas, lizards, earthworms, frogs and birds, picking these from the leaf-litter and from the trunks and branches of large trees (1) (4).