Hornbills in Saigon?

I’m still feeling a little in awe of what I just saw.

Riding slowly, sickness in heavy traffic, East along Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa toward Pasteur my attention was drawn upward by a flash of bright orange in the late afternoon sun. The ungainly yet endearing glide/flap/fall of a hornbill punctuated the blue sky as this gorgeous bird crossed over the road into the depth of a giant tree in the grounds of Reunification Palace.

My jaw literally dropped and I must have sucked an extra litre of exhaust fumes into my lungs after an audible gasp. I’d forgotten that hornbills always live in pairs, so was amazed again as the second bird followed the same path as the first.

I could never imagine such a beautiful, rare, reclusive bird would be living in noisy, polluted central Saigon, but I’m not a user of illicit substances and I’m not tired enough to be dreaming while awake, so I have to admit that these are very real.

Has anybody else seen this magnificent pair? Are there other remarkable cases of wild nature existing within this terribly industrial urban jungle?

I can’t be sure that what I saw was a Great Hornbill as they seemed smaller than what I remember, but these are the only variety I’ve been able to determine that are relatively common in Southern Vietnam.

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