Mystery Bird: Trumpeter Hornbill, Bycanistes bucinator

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[Mystery bird] Trumpeter Hornbill, Bycanistes bucinator, photographed in a classroom in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, somewhere in Scotland, UK. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

[larger view].

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

[Mystery bird] photographed in a classroom in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, somewhere in Scotland, UK. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

[larger view].

Review all mystery birds to date.

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hmmm, the size of an eagle, but its eyes are as mild and tender as those of the eagle are fierce and threatening... its beak is the colour of a rose... its neck resembles all the colours of the rainbow, but more brilliant and lively... a thousand shades of gold glisten on its plumage... feet a mixture of purple and silver... tail gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green depending on the viewer's angle, air quality, and age of the field guide)

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

i almost gave you the bird you describe as the daily mystery bird, but i couldn't get a good photo of it. i did manage (as you can see) to get a good screen shot of this bird, though. both before and after (this is the after image).

Bob, unfortunately the alohomora is about as much use as peskipiksi pesternominow and pretty much a useless spell even on doors, as there are a plethora of counter-spells already in place (Snape's and Umbridge's office doors, etc.)... one would probably have better success with accio perhaps in conjunction with avis, or some form of the fidelius charm to catch a glimpse of the "before" photo to whch Grrl refers...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

Sorry for the delay Bob, I was watching my team "transfigure" Arsenal into an also-ran... hmmm, methinks perhaps a hornbill, but not the usual sort... can't quite remember... fera verto- if only I could change the shot above back into the shot before...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

I think the confounding mark for me at the time was the coloration and shape of the casque- I wouldn't at all surprised if this was a Great Hornbill but a juvenile where the casque was not yet fully formed (it takes several years) but already displaying the white tips to the primaries and wing coverts... I think females display a circumocular redish patch of skin... but without another reference photo, I can't accurately think back the some 7 or 8 years to a quick glimpse in a movie!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 31 Jan 2010 #permalink

Grrl, I wish you'd shown me that second photo first time around!

Don't think I'll change my initial thoughts- of the some 54 species of hornbill, the plumage and patterning suggests a Great Hornbill and the beak/casque that of a juvenile... very similar to the Grey-cheeked or Silver-cheeked, but while both have white-tiped primaries, neither has white tips to the wing coverts...

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 01 Feb 2010 #permalink

well, david, your jumble of spells and charms worked (just took a little while for them to travel from DC to germany). but the "before" bird did appear, afterall!

hrm. i thought it might be a immature oriental pied hornbill, but it seems i might be wrong.

since my field guides are still in boxes, i googled juvenile great hornbills and this bird does not look like that species: the belly and chest appear to be white on this bird, while the great hornbill has a black chest and belly.

i have a friend who breeds hornbills who might be able to talk more about what species this is, i'll see if i can get him to comment.

The problem Grrl, is that Oriental Pied (and African Pied) do not have white tips to the secondaries, only Great Hornbills do... additionally, Great Hornbills do have white necks and throats, so perhaps that may appear as white underneath... the undertail coverts are white also... but as I was when I first saw it, I recognised the family but not the species!

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 03 Feb 2010 #permalink

I'm thinking it's one of the Bycanistes hornbills from Africa, probably B. cylindricus (Brown-cheeked) or B. subcylindricus (Grey-cheeked). Based on white primaries (Asian birds lack those) and the rose colored eye-ring.

By Dick Schroeder (not verified) on 04 Feb 2010 #permalink

thanks dick, for the help and the information about white-tipped primaries and the rose-colored eyering.

for those who are still following this discussion, the consensus of several people, including dick schroeder (in email) is for the same species ID:

Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator) dick's comment: "Looks a bit large for a Trumpeter, but colors/markings are correct."

dave (another bird breeder) says in email: "I think I'm defeated ! I move to motion, changing my submission to Trumpeter Hornbill !

Piping [hornbill] has black skin around the eyes, I'm sure the trumpeter was much easier to find for the movie than a piping as well."

steve (another bird breeder) says: "I wouldn't go by size. The bird is probably further away from the camera to make it look small"

Yep, looks close to me Grrl... but how do your contacts explain the white edging to the secondaries? Many species have white tips to the primaries, but that second "wingbar" doesn't look like something that would come or go with age/gender...

By the way, the current 6th Edition of Clements Checklist has the genus now as Ceratogymna.

(cerato meaning "horn" and gymnos for "naked", i.e. following the practice of Ancient Greek athletes competing nude)

By David Hilmy (not verified) on 05 Feb 2010 #permalink

hmmm, the attached photo of a Trumpeter Hornbill in flight seems to show that this species does not in fact have white tips to it's primaries but distinct white tips to the secondaries, so my only uncertainty seems to have been resolved- what I must say though is that finding accurate descriptions of this family (i.e. that are not plagiarizations of Wikipedia!) are few and far between...

one point that I have noted is that females apparently have a much shorter upper extension to their casque than do males and so I would suggest that our subject above is probably a female

photo of a pair of Trumpeter Hornbills (male left, female right)

By David hilmy (not verified) on 05 Feb 2010 #permalink

Definitely a Trumpeter; no other Ceratogymna/ Bycanistes hornbill has that much white underneath. Casque shape in all of the bigger arboreal African hornbills varies a lot. This looks like a rooster to me. It seems to me that those white tips on the wing coverts are a geographical variation from birds in the northern part of the species' range. Most Trumpeters don't have these.