Hornbill at Ban Maka: Thailand Birding


Those birders visiting Kaeng Krachan and wishing to stay in comfort rather than camping in the national park, have a choice of a number of places close to the forest. I usually use Ban Maka which is a pleasant place to stay with air conditioned rooms, private bathrooms and excellent food as well as having helpful staff.

One of the features at Ban Maka is their tame Oriental Pied Hornbill which was given to the owner after a local had become tired of it. The hornbill goes by the name of Gak Gak ( the Thai name for this species is Nok Gak) and can be somewhat overfriendly. A bit of finger drumming on the table usually sees Gak Gak come swooping down looking for a tickle or some food.

The trouble is that he doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough and he often takes to stealing food from your plate or pulling your shoe laces and after the first night his company wears a bit thin.

If you are going to feed the bird then he seems to like rice and chicken and sometimes fruit.

It is worth noting that there are a couple of wild Oriental Pied Hornbills that visit the garden of Ban Maka but Gak Gak doesn’t seem to be interested and never flies away with them; in fact, judging by his behaviour, he was taken from a nest when a small chick and has spent his whole life around humans.

If you go to Ban Maka you will meet him soon enough and he may be a highlight of your stay, or perhaps the biggest irritation.

Note: Since 2011 Gak Gak has departed the restaurant at Ban Maka and joined the wild Oriental Pied Hornbills in the area. Wild hornbills can still be seen around the garden and the feeding areas but you will no longer be harrassed by them when having your meals.

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One Response to “Hornbill at Ban Maka: Thailand Birding”

  1. James says:

    They have a similar situation at the research houses at Khao Yai a Great Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill (called Gok and Cook key after the Thai names). The Great was an unwanted pet from a local village and is not as tame as the Wreathed which was confiscated from poachers as a chick. The wreathed Hornbill also has a similar fascination with shoelaces. They associate with each other but not other Hornbills in the area.

    Both nice to have around, but can be nuisance if your busy trying to do something.

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