A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a species of hornbill birds, native to Southeast Asia. Hornbills of this species are also known as great pied hornbills, great Indian hornbills, and concave-casqued hornbills. Hornbills belong to the Buceros genus of the Bucerotidae family. These gentle natured, friendly birds are spotted in dense unlogged forests of India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, and Bhutan. Though they don't have many natural predators, their population strength is decreasing day by day due to loss of habitat by wood harvesting, and poaching.
Hornbills are monogamous birds and live in small-sized flocks consisting of a couple of other breeding pairs and their chicks. Communal roosting is a common practice between great hornbills, and they gather in large numbers after sunset to roost together. Females can produce up to two eggs per clutch and the chicks are fed by their parents until they gain maturity. They are omnivorous birds and prey on various small birds, small-sized mammals, reptiles, and insects. Their plant-based diet includes various fruits which are rich in sugar and lipid. They are very elegant-looking birds due to their vivid coloration. Female great hornbills have a shorter body than male great hornbills. Great hornbills are the second largest and heaviest birds of their group.
A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a species of hornbills from the Buecros genus of the Buecerotidae family. They are also known as the great pied hornbill and the great Indian hornbill.
The great hornbill (Buecros bicornis) belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia kingdom.
According to the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, 13,000 to 27,000 great hornbills are living in dense, unlogged forests of Southeast Asia. However, the IUCN also states that the strength of their population is decreasing.
The great Indian hornbill is primarily distributed in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Malay Peninsula. These magnificent birds are spotted in Thailand, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Burma, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Sumatra. They are also spotted in forests in hilly regions of northeastern India and Borneo. In India, ornithologists have also spotted other species of hornbills in forests in the southern region and ranges of the Western Ghat.
Great hornbills are tree-dwelling species. They prefer tropical, subtropical rainforests, hill areas with dense wood, and a wet climate. Great hornbills make their nests in large trees.
Great hornbills live in small to medium-sized flocks. These flocks mostly consist of breeding pairs and chicks. After sunset, at the end of their day, they congregate in large numbers.
A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is an omnivorous bird which has a very limited number of predators. Also, there is not a scarcity of food in their natural habitat. Thereby, a great hornbills' life expectancy is greater than many other species of birds. Their lifespan ranges between 35 to 40 years. However, with proper nutrition and care, a great hornbill can live up to 50 years in captivity.
Hornbills follow the monogamous mating system. They form a pair and remain together for a lifetime. The breeding season of hornbills starts in late February and ends in May. Before forming a pair, male hornbills perform various courtship displays to attract a female hornbill. These include bumping heads with other male hornbills. Female hornbills show their acceptance by performing duet calls.
They prepare their nest in a large enough hole of an old and sturdy tree. They tend to nest in the same tree for years. To protect their nest from predators and natural calamities, great hornbills seal the entrance with their droppings. The incubation period is of 38 to 40 days and one to two eggs are laid per clutch. Males provide rich fruits and other foods to the incubating female. The chicks gain their independence at the age of 15 weeks.
With a decreasing population, the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has listed the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) as a Vulnerable species.
A great Indian hornbill is known for its vivid coloration. Their neck and abdomen are covered with beautiful white feathers and the rest of their body is covered with black feathers. The coloration of their beak, casque, and tail varies between shades of bright yellow and red, depending upon the tinted oil emitted from their preen gland. They utilize their hollow casque to attract females. Similar to other species of hornbills such as the red-billed hornbill, southern ground hornbill, and African hornbill, they have prominent and gorgeous eyelashes. Great hornbills display sexual dimorphism, where females are slightly smaller in size. There are other differences as well between male and female hornbills, such as females have bluish-white eyes, whereas males possess red eyes. Irrespective of this, the orbital skin remains pinkish.
A great pied hornbill is one of the most gorgeous and cute species of hornbills in our world. Their beautifully shaped casques, bright yellow bills, and vivid coloration make their appearance mesmerizing.
Similar to other species of birds, they communicate with each other through various sounds and postures. They are indeed very loud birds, with 'roaring' and 'crackling' like sounds they make. While forming a pair during the pre-breeding season, they perform duet calls as a sign of acceptance. A male hornbill is a very competitive bird when it comes to the selection of a partner.
After the helmeted hornbill, the great hornbill is the second largest species in their group. Typically their length ranges from 37.4-47.2 in (95-120 cm), with a wingspan of 59.4-70 in (151-178 cm). They are approximately twice the size of a harrier, which has an average length of 20 in (50 cm).
Great hornbills are non-migratory birds and fly around within their range. With their massive wings, hornbills can fly at a speed of 18 mph (28.9 kph). However, the exact speed at which great hornbills fly is yet unknown.
A great hornbill is the heaviest one of their group with an average body weight of 6.6 lb (3 kg). They weigh more than twice compared to a Rhinoceros hornbill. The body mass of these birds depends on their nutrition and territory. With proper care, they can maintain a great physique, even in captivity.
Similar to other species of birds, a male hornbill is called a cock and a female hornbill is called a hen.
A baby great hornbill is known as a chick.
They are omnivorous birds. Their animal-based diet includes various small birds, amphibians, small-sized mammals, reptiles, and insects. In plant-based foods, they are especially fond of fruits that are rich in lipid and sugar. They prefer such fruits due to their high requirement of energy, especially during the breeding season. When a female is busy with their incubation duty, all the other male members of the flock are responsible for arranging food for her.
Hornbills are not dangerous at all. They are one of the friendliest birds you can ever encounter. Even when threatened, a hornbill prefers to step back rather than engaging or displaying aggressive behavior.
Despite being wild birds, they can be tamed with proper training. They are very friendly as well. However, the issue lies in their size. A hornbill bird is fairly large-sized and it is very difficult to keep them in small houses.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
The practice of sealing the entrance with droppings to protect the nest is unique to the great pied hornbill species and the Rhinoceros hornbill species.
Great hornbills are known to have a great appetite and can consume up to 150 figs in a single meal.
They are very human-friendly birds and they won't be afraid if you try to feed them.
Hornbills received their name due to the 'U' shaped casque they have. The name of their family Bucerotidae is derived from the sobriquet 'Bicornis', which translates to 'two horned'.
These birds are able to enhance their coloration by speeding the tinted oil from their preen gland.
In Myanmar, a great hornbill is known as 'Vezhaambal'.
It may sound surprising that the breeding season of hornbills is the most difficult time for them. The nesting ritual, arranging food for incubating females, and protecting the territory completely exhausts male members of the flock. It is so intense for these birds that multiple male great hornbills die during this period.
The specialty of hornbills lies in their wings. The flapping or beating of their wings is said to be heard from miles far away. It sounds similar to the sound of a steam locomotive engine.
A great hornbill is the second largest one of their group with an amazing length of 37.4-47.2 in (95-120 cm), with a wingspan of 59.4-70 in (151-178 cm). Their wings are nearly half the size of a wandering albatross, the largest flying bird in our world. A wandering albatross has an amazing wingspan of 99-138 in (251.4-359.5 cm).
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Great hornbill bird coloring pages.