The Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill

Penelopides mindorensis

Photo of a younger female Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill by jctgonzalez.

Tarictic Hornbills, known for their "tarictic" sounding calls, can only be found in the Philippines. But the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill, found only on the Philippine island of Mindoro, is the only tarictic whose males and females look almost exactly the same1 save for a blue ring around the eyes of the females. This sexual dimorphism2 makes the female that much more colorful and interesting to see, and makes their species as a whole especially unique in the bird world, where the males tend to be more colorful3.

The Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills can only be found on the Philippine island of Mindoro.

What is that red thing on their beak?

Like their cousins the Visayan Tarictic Hornbill, the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills have a non-functional ornament above their bills that ornithologists (or scientists who study birds) think simply came from an evolutionary process they call sexual selection4.

Two adult Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills, a male (with white eye rings) on the left and a female (with blue eye rings) on the right. Photo by Ivan Serenas.

Why are they named "tarictics"?

The term "tarictic" actually refers to the sounds they make5 that have long been associated with in written or spoken form as "ta-rik-tik-tik". If you were to compare the actual sound they make to something familiar, it might be a high pitch bike horn that is squeezed repeatedly or highly erratic trumpeting sounds6.

Listen in on a recording of the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills here.

The Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill's call sounds like high pitch bike horns.

Behavior

Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills have been observed to live and feed along lowland forest edges and are quite easily spotted due to their white "mohawks" and intricately patterned bills. They typically "fly and glide" between treetops as shown in the video linked below. Their distinct plumage and flight habits make them easy to spot for birders and aficionados of Philippine endemic birds, but unfortunately it also makes them easy to shoot by local residents who hunt them for food1.

Watch a video of a Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill in flight.

They have been observed to dart in-between treetops in the forests of Mindoro.

The Mindoro Tarictic is an endangered species7

At one point observations between the early 1900's and the 1970's stated abundant populations of the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill all over the island. But due to on-going degradation of lowland forest via slash-and-burn cultivation, logging, and hunting primarily for food1, the IUCN has determined them to be endangered. As of 2001, data analyzed by Birdlife International suggests that there are under 1,500 individuals remaining on the island7 and consequently, the world.

How you can help

The following organizations contribute not only to the conservation of this particular species, but to the diverse range of birds found in the Philippines.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

Established in 2003, The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines is the pioneer bird watching club in the nation dedicated to promoting bird watching as a hobby and as a responsible way of enjoying the Philippines' most coveted natural habitats. The volunteer-led club contributes to the conservation of Philippine endangered birds by promoting bird watching as a healthy and recreational practice, encouraging responsible behavior from local communities and tourists alike, as well as environmentally-responsible policies from local governments and officials.

The Haribon Foundation

Started in 1972, Haribon, named after the Philippine Eagle's name in Filipino for "Bird King", gave birth to the Philippine environmental movement. Eventually coupling itself with international conservation organizations such as BirdLife International and the World Wildlife Fund, Haribon has contributed greatly not only to help establish conservation reserves and parks for Philippine birds and other species domestically, but to publications that put the Philippines on the map internationally in regards to its unique but endangered bird populations.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation

Since 1987 the Philippine Eagle Foundation has been focused on saving the Philippine Eagle and consequently saving hundreds of other species that live within its forest realms in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. With the help of donors and grants, the foundation conducts research, rehabilitation, and captive breeding programs.

Help endangered birds worldwide

BirdLife International is the world's largest partnership of conservation organizations. 117 organizations make up this partnership in over 100 countries across the globe, including the Philippine's own Haribon Foundation. Together, they create bird mascots and flagships to help push for the conservation of endangered birds, consequently conserving the forests they reside and the other wildlife in these areas. By doing so they conserve biodiversity in these areas to improve the quality of people's lives and integrating bird conservation into sustaining people's livelihoods. A symbiotic relationship is then created between people and the environment, as opposed to the "one uses the other" practice that is currently established the world over.

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*This site is not affiliated with the "Angry Birds" game, Rovio, or Jaakko Iisalo, and is for educational purposes only. Learn more about the illustrator here. If you find any errors please let me know!

SOURCES

Just a side note: Hornbills are birds under the family Bucerotidae, derived from "buceros" which is greek for "cow horn", referring to the unique structure of their bills. Info from this wiki for "Hornbills".

1. Mentioned in BirdBase's PDF on the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill, Penelopides mindorensis.

2. Different eye-ring colors noted at the wiki for the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill.

3. As to why males tend to be more colorful, scientists have been finding that their testosterone has a big part in why this is the case. "Testosterone Gives Male Birds Their Color, Scientists Say." By Adrianne Appel.

4. Ornamentation from sexual selection mentioned in Arkive.org's description of the Visayan Tarictic Hornbill.

5. This species is part of the Penelopides family aka tarictic hornbills, an onomatopoeic name for their calls. The Ecology and Conservation of Asian Hornbills: Farmers of the Forest By Margaret F. Kinnaird, Timothy G. O'Brien.

6. Birdlife species factsheet on the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill.

7. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Penelopides mindorensis (Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill).