Fun Great Hornbill Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 17, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
Great hornbill facts for kids are interesting to read.

A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a species of hornbill bird, 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 shorter bodies than male great hornbills. Great hornbills are the second largest and heaviest birds in their group.

We have collected a set of interesting facts about great hornbills for you to read. Also, check our articles on hornbill and Atlantic puffin for more fascinating facts about wild animals and birds.

Great Hornbill Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a great hornbill?

A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a species of hornbill from the Buecros genus of the Buecerotidae family. They are also known as the great pied hornbill and the great Indian hornbill.

What class of animal does a great hornbill belong to?

The great hornbill (Buecros bicornis) belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia kingdom.

How many great hornbills are there in the world?

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.

Where does a great hornbill live?

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.

What is a great hornbill's habitat?

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.

Who do great hornbills live with?

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.

How long does a great hornbill live?

A great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is an omnivorous bird that has a very limited number of predators. Also, there is no scarcity of food in their natural habitat.

Thereby, a great hornbill's 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.

How do they reproduce?

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 in 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 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.

What is their conservation status?

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.

Great Hornbill Fun Facts

What do great hornbills look like?

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 having bluish-white eyes, whereas males possess red eyes. Irrespective of this, the orbital skin remains pinkish.

A great hornbill with a piece of food in between its beak.

How cute are they?

A great pied hornbill is one of the most gorgeous and cute species of hornbill in our world. Their beautifully shaped casques, bright yellow bills, and vivid coloration make their appearance mesmerizing.

How do they communicate?

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.

How big is a great hornbill?

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).

How fast can a great hornbill fly?

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.

How much does a great hornbill weigh?

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.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Similar to other species of birds, a male hornbill is called a cock, and a female hornbill is called a hen.  

What would you call a baby great hornbill?

A baby great hornbill is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

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 lipids 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.

Are they dangerous?

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 engage or display aggressive behavior.

Would they make a good pet?

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.

Did you know...

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 can 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.

What is unique about a hornbill?

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.

How does a great hornbill's size compare to other birds?

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).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including chaffinch or common kingfisher.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Great Hornbill bird coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj Tripathi picture

Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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