National Bird of Malaysia

The national bird of Malaysia is generally recognised as the Rhinoceros Hornbill (buceros hornbill). It is also the state bird of Sarawak where the bird is particularly revered by the Dayak people. There are many species of hornbills. The Rhinoceros variety has black and white plumage and a red-orange casque.

The rhinoceros hornbill features prominently on the reverse of the polymer 5-ringgit banknote introduced in 2012 and peeks through the see-through security feature window on both sides of the banknote.

This magnificent bird can be found throughout the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, southern Thailand, Borneo, Sumatra and Java although the species is listed as 'near threatened.' They have an unusual nesting habit. They make nests inside tree trunks and the female and chicks are sealed up inside the trunk with mud, leaving just sufficient gap for the male to pass food through. When the chicks are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest, the parents break the dried mud to release the chicks and mother. 

Alternative National Bird of Malaysia?

Sham Edmond, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Another contender for National Bird of Malaysia is the Malaysian (or Malayan) Peacock Pheasant (polypectron malacense) which, as the name suggests, looks like a cross between a pheasant and a peacock with attractive, iridescent blue-green eyespots on its upper wings.  It is found only in the forests of the Malay Peninsula. 


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