Hornrietta is an eye- and ear-catching animal inside the Zoo. She and her mate, Niles, are southern ground hornbills. Their brightly colored wattles next to their black feathers are one stand-out feature. As the birds get closer to you, you may notice “eyelashes” for days! (While they look and act like eyelashes, they are actually feathers.) And finally, if you have ever heard their booming call you will never forget these magnificent animals.
Those booming calls may be responsible for the pair’s relationship. Before Niles moved into his current home, he was part of the bird show in the farm area and would call out. Hornrietta would return the calls, and they would “talk” back and forth. After some time, it was recommended the two mate. When they were finally introduced beak to beak, things went smoothly – most likely because they remembered each other’s call. The pair has now been together for 10 years. They have one offspring that has since been sent to another zoo and now has a breeding recommendation at Zoo Boise.