By Jo Gregson
First Published in The Avicultural Magazine Vol. 109 No. 2
Copyright © 2003 Avicultural Society, Published with Permission

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park succeeded in breeding the BreedingWrinkled Hornbill Aceros corrugatus during 2002. The pair receive very similar care to our pair of Papuan Wreathed HornbillAceros plicatusPapuan Wreathed or Blyth's Hornbills A. plicatus, which reared two chicks in 2001, a breeding which I described in the Avicultural Magazine Vol.107, No.4, pp.165-166

Getting our two Wrinkled Hornbills to live together successfully was far from straightforward. In our experience this is a difficult time for young males and care needs to be taken. Our male was hatched at Chester Zoo in 1995 and was acquired by Paignton Zoo the following year. When it arrived here in 1996 it was not yet old enough to place with our female, which arrived in 1986, following a seizure by Customs & Excise. We first introduced them to each other in 1997, but this and subsequent introductions during the following two years proved unsuccessful. Sometimes they would stay together for a few months before the male began to lose condition and had to be removed. The female was never seen to attack him, she simply seemed to ignore him. At other times they were kept in separate aviaries side by side, but the female continued to take no interest in him.

The pair was finally successfully introduced in 1999, when the male was four years old and had more about him, though the female remained dominant. She remained sealed in the nest-box for three months, however, no eggs or chicks were ever seen. The following year there was no breeding activity, as the pair was settling into new accommodation. This comprises an outside aviary measuring 3m x 5m x 4m high (approx. 9ft 9in x 16ft X 13ft high) with an adjoining inside area measuring 2m x 3m x 4m high (approx. 6ft 6in x 9ft 9in x 13ft high). All our Asian hornbills prefer to nest indoors and it is important that the inside area is as high or higher than the outside area, also that the pop-hole between the inside and outside quarters is at the highest point.

The nest-box is hung inside at a height of 2.5m (approx. 8ft 2in). It measures 65cm x 40 cm x 50cm high (approx. 1ft 1in x 1ft 4in x 1ft 8in high), and has a landing ledge measuring 20cm x 40cm (approx. 8in x 1ft 4in). The entrance hole measures 20cm x 20cm (approx. 8in x 8in) and is at the centre of the narrower side. For plastering we supply a puddle clay mixed with dry leaves and peat, the birds use some of this but mostly prefer to use their own faeces and food.

Once settled into their new accommodation, the hornbills' condition improved greatly. Wrinkled Hornbills are the 'grease monkeys' of the rainforest; it is not easy, even at the best of times, to get them into tip-top condition. They are tacky to the touch and when in poor condition they become even greasier and lose their waterproofing and insulation.

As a point of interest, we have found that our male Wrinkled Hornbill and male Rhinoceros Hornbill Buceros rhinoceros do not attain all their tail feathers when their condition is not right. Obviously a bird with hardly any or no tail feathers is not in the best of condition. Often a bird that looks good, with only one or two tail feathers missing, has still not quite 'hit the spot' and is unlikely to have a successful breeding season.

In 2001, the female was sealed inside the box by February. Keepers reported hearing chicks during May, but when the box was inspected July 1st, there were no chicks inside, only an addled egg. Early in 2002 the birds began plastering again and the female was sealed inside the box by the end of February. A chick was heard on March 20th. May 30th one chick left the nest-box. Six months later the female was continuing to feed the chick, but the family behaviour had become more fractious and as a precaution the chick was moved to an adjacent aviary. At nine months old it was showing a few black feathers around the face, indicating that it is a female and not a male as we had thought at six months old.

It was reared on a diet mainly of mice, pinkies at first, then fluffs, followed later by small adult mice. The adults' diet consists of mixed chopped fruit, mealworms, mice, cooked minced (ground) beef and boiled egg, all dusted with SA37.

Jo Gregson is Senior Head Keeper of Birds at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Totnes Road, Paignton, Devon TQ4 7EU, UK Tel:01803 697500/Fax: 01803 523457 Website: