The Visayan Tarictic Hornbill

Penelopides panini

Photo of a Visayan Tarictic Hornbill by Tim Laman.

The Philippines is home to more endemic hornbills than any other country in the world1. Of these, the Visayan Tarictic Hornbill is among the smallest and can only be found on the Philippine islands of Masbate in the Bicol region, Negros in the Central Visayas region, and Guimaras, Pan de Azucar, Panay, Sicogon in the Western Visayas region2. On top of its bill is an unusual ornament that seems to serve no function, but is believed to be the result of what ornithologists (or scientists who study birds) think simply came from an evolutionary process they call sexual selection3.

The Visayan Tarictic Hornbills can only be found on several Philippine islands in the Visayas region.

Breeding behavior

The Visayan Tarictic practices a unique breeding behavior shared among most hornbills. Before laying her eggs, the female seals itself inside an existing hole in a tree. Once the eggs hatch the male returns to the nest to feed her and her chicks regularly by regurgitating food he collects, primarily fruit, but not excluding insects, worms, fish, and lizards3.

Once the eggs hatch the male returns to the nest to feed female and chicks.

Unlike their cousin the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbill who also share this breeding behavior, the males and females look different from each other. The males have a splash of creamy-white while the females are mostly black4.

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 sounds4.

However they have also been given different names depending on which island they reside. For instance in Tagalog-speaking islands they use the name Tariktik, while in some Visayan speaking-islands they are known as Talusi or Taosi2.

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

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

The Visayan Tarictic is an endangered species6

Deforestation has led to its decrease in population as tiny fragments of forest remain on the islands of Masbate, Guimaras, Ticao, Pan de Azucar and Sicogon, while Panay has 8% of its forest left and Negros about 4%. On top of this, hunting and trapping these birds are widespread with single birds being sold for as little as US$16.

Between the years of 1998 and 2005 the Panay Eco-Social Conservation Project or PanayCon (then known as the Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project), 22 Visayan Tarictics were rehabilitated and released back into the wild while artificial nest boxes were installed throughout PanayCon's conservation area, and were observed to be used by the wild Tarictics for breeding3. A nest guarding project is also being implemented where local communities are paid to protect rather than poach the endangered local hornbills.

How you can help

PanayCon is run by the Philippine Initiate for Conservation of Environment and the People, Inc. or Philincon, a registered Philippine non-profit. The rehabilitation projects and artificial nest installations as mentioned above, as well as other projects aimed to conserve species in north and north-west Panay are entirely funded by contributions from individuals as well as public and private institutions. View a list of their projects for a general view of their work and donate below:

More organizations 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. "The Philippines supports more endemic hornbills than any other country in the world; 9 species and at least 10 distinct subspecies. Unfortunately, all Philippines hornbills are threatened to varying degrees…" from SoutheastAsiaCampaign.org

2. Robert S. Kennedy's "A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines" is regarded as the leading guidebook on Philippine birds.

3. Arkive.org description on the Visayan Tarictic (Penelopides panini).

4. Birdlife species factsheet on 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. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Penelopides panini (Visayan Tarictic Hornbill).