22 September 2015

Hornbill attack!

Last year we moved to Miri in Sarawak (one of the two Malaysian states on Borneo).  The state is known for its Hornbills (they are the state emblem) and tourist memorabilia is awash with the stuff.  We picked up a few decent carvings before we left as memories of our time there.  Hornbills are fairly ubiquitous and with their big beaks it is impossible to mistake them for anything else.  Our home was in a suburban area and we did not get them in our garden but we could see them at the beach just a short 5 minute drive away.

Hornbills, the state symbol of Sarawak are beautiful
birds with a striking bill
The closest encounter I had, however, was during a trip to the Miri Zoo.  My sister and I had taken the children (who were desperate to show her the local crocodiles) and I decided to get a few shots of one of the Hornbills in his cage.  The bird was either a thoroughly unpleasant individual or he was just having a bad day (I wouldn't blame him on either count as I am sure he would rather be living in the wild).  

This one had his beady eye on me....
Whatever the explanation he certainly took a dislike to me.  One second he was sitting quite contentedly on his perch, showing of his spectacular beak and plumage, the next he had launched himself, screaming, directly at my face.  I was thoroughly relieved to be separated from this close relative to the harpy by a sturdy close mesh cage.  He certainly made me jump – quite a sight given that I was 37 weeks pregnant at the time!  The strange thing was that, having made his feelings towards me quite clear, he returned to his habitual perch to preen and show off to all the other visitors. 

And decided to attack....

I was pleased to meet him in the zoo and not in the wild!
I will enjoy my hornbill carvings and the memories they contain of our all too short stint in Sarawak but I will never be tempted to get close to the real thing again.

Posted on the Animal Tales linky hosted by Eco-Gites of Lenault


Click the picture below for more posts on life in Borneo

Ersatz Expat


  1. What areas in Miri would you say are some of the nicest to live in? We are two people, about to move to Miri, need to be fairly close to Curtin University & also enjoy being close to restaurants, shopping & coast. Do you know Taman Bayshore, for example? What do you think of that? Our budget goes to 4000RM. Thanks so much for any reply and I do enjoy this site. yours, MH

    1. Thanks for the kind comments! I did not like bay shore. The houses were too close together, cramped in their plots and felt very overlooked by neighbours. The prices are also sky high, very inflated compared with other, nicer, parts of town. That said it is a very personal view as most of the people we knew lived there. Luack bay is probably the nicest part oftown but along commute.

      We lived in a stand alone house with a big garden in Piasau Garden which was 20 minutes from Curtin and close to town. 5 minutes from two good supermarkets. Krokop and Lutong are also popular as is the golf course. A lot of our friends lived in Curtin water but while close to the uni it is a long way out of town and there are burglaries in the area.

      Re the coast the beaches in town are pretty grim. We used to drive to the cleaner, quieter Pantai Bungai 60kmout of town in the direction of Bekenu. A true paradise on earth.

      Enjoy your time in Miri it is a lovely place to live.

  2. Hi, hornbills are certainly magnificent looking birds, but I wouldn't want to get too close to that beak! You were lucky you didn't give birth there and then in the zoo after that one launched itself at you!


  3. Hornbills are common birds in South Africa and they hand around the camp sites and are a nuisance as the tourists feed them, which encourages them to then swoop in at the picnic tables for food. Last year at Kruger one scared me half to death as I went to put rubbish in the bin where he was scavenging for food

    1. They are so large as well! That must have been really quite unpleasant.

  4. Good grief - you are right about that particular horn-bill having a bad day - I wonder if your pregnant state had anything to do with it? Thank you for adding this slightly scary story to #AnimalTales ... and I'm glad we don't have horn-bills in Normandy!

    1. You might have something there - animals and birds are perceptive.