Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The 5th International Hornbill Conference will be held next March 22nd through 25th at the Botany Centre of the Singapore Botanical Gardens. It promises to be a great opportunity to learn more about what are, let's face it, the coolest of all birds. Alan Kemp, author of the great Oxford book, The Hornbills, and Pilai Poonswad, director of the Hornbill Research Foundation at Mahidol University in Bangkok, will be the keynote speakers. A website for the conference is in the works, and I promise to link to it once it's up. Registration for international participants is S$650, or S$500 (about US$365 at the moment) before the end of December. Got to start saving my pennies.
BAR-POUCHED WREATHED HORNBILLS (1996) acrylic on illustration board 30" x 20" collection of Pacific Securities, Taipei, Taiwan
"Like all but two of the 54 hornbill species, the female Bar-pouched Wreathed Hornbill (Aceros undulatus) walls herself into a tree cavity prior to egg laying. This species, which ranges from Bengal to Bali, has a particularly long nesting period; the female can spend 130 days or more confined in her cell. During this time the male busies himself collecting fruits for his mate and growing offspring, to whom the food is delivered through a small aperture. In this painting the female has just emerged from the nest to stretch in the sunlight while the single youngster peers from the cavity onto its newly expanded universe. Interestingly, Asian hornbills of both sexes in their first plumage resemble adult males, rather than females. As far as I know, they are unique among birds in this respect"


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