|Male in Raigad, Maharashtra|
|Female in Raigad, Maharashtra|
The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis), also known as the concave-casqued hornbill, great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family. It occurs in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is predominantly frugivorous, but also preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2018. It is known to have lived for nearly 50 years in captivity. Due to its large size and colour, it is important in many tribal cultures and rituals. The Government of Kerala declared it as the official Kerala state bird.
The great hornbill was formally described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae . He placed it with the rhinoceros hornbill in the genus Buceros and coined the binomial name Buceros bicornis. Linnaeus specified the location as China.The genus name is from Latin becerus meaning "horned like an ox" which in turn is from the Ancient Greek boukerōs which combines bous meaning "ox" with kerōs meaning "horn". The specific bicornis is Latin and means "two-horned". The species is monotypic: no subspecies are recognised.
The species was formerly broken into subspecies cavatus, from the Western Ghats, and homrai, the nominate form from the sub-Himalayan forests. The subspecies from Sumatra was sometimes called cristatus.Variation across populations is mainly in size, Himalayan birds being larger than those from further south, and the species is now usually considered monotypic.
The great hornbill is a large bird, 95–130 cm (37–51 in) long, with a 152 cm (60 in) wingspan and a weight of 2 to 4 kg (4.4 to 8.8 lb). The average weight of 7 males is 3 kg (6.6 lb) whereas that of 3 females is 2.59 kg (5.7 lb). It is the heaviest, but not the longest, Asian hornbill. Females are smaller than males and have bluish-white instead of red eyes, although the orbital skin is pinkish. Like other hornbills, they have prominent "eyelashes".[ citation needed ]
The most prominent feature of the hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill. The casque appears U-shaped when viewed from the front, and the top is concave, with two ridges along the sides that form points in the front, whence the Latin species epithet bicornis (two-horned). The back of the casque is reddish in females, while the underside of the front and back of the casque is black in males.[ citation needed ]
The casque is hollow and serves no known purpose, although it is thought to be the result of sexual selection. Male hornbills indulge in aerial casque butting, with birds striking each other in flight. [ citation needed ]The male spreads the preen gland secretion, which is yellow, onto the primary feathers and bill to give them the bright yellow colour. The commissure of the beak is black and has a serrated edge which becomes worn with age.
The wing beats are heavy, and the sound produced by birds in flight can be heard from a distance. This sound has been likened to the puffing of a steam locomotive starting up. The flight involves stiff flaps followed by glides with the fingers splayed and upcurled.
Like other members of the hornbill family, they have highly pneumatized bones, with hollow air cavities extending to the tips of the wing bones. This anatomical feature was noted by Richard Owen, who dissected a specimen that died at the Zoological Society of London in 1833.
The great hornbill is native to the forests of India, Bhutan, Nepal, mainland Southeast Asia and Sumatra.Its distribution is fragmented in the Western Ghats and in the foothills of the Himalayas. Deforestation has reduced its range in many parts of India such as in the Kolli hills where it was recorded in the 1860s.
It prefers dense old growth unlogged forests in hilly regions.It appears to be dependent on large stretches of rain forests.
In Thailand, the home range of males was found to be about 3.7 km (2.3 mi) during the breeding season and about 14.7 km (9.1 mi) during the non-breeding season. Molecular approaches to the study of its population diversity have been attempted.
Great hornbills are usually seen in small parties, with larger groups sometimes aggregating at fruit trees. A congregation of 150 to 200 birds has been recorded in southeastern Bhutan.In the wild, the great hornbill's diet consists mainly of fruit. Figs are particularly important as a food source. Vitex altissima has been noted as another important food source. Great hornbills also forage on lipid-rich fruits of the families Lauraceae and Myristicaceae such as Persea , Alseodaphne and Myristica . They obtain water entirely from their diet of fruits. They are important dispersers of many forest tree species. They will also eat small mammals, birds, small reptiles and insects. Lion-tailed macaques have been seen to forage alongside these hornbills.
They forage along branches, moving along by hopping, looking for insects, nestling birds and small lizards, tearing up bark and examining them. Prey are caught, tossed in the air and swallowed. A rare squirrel, the Travancore flying squirrel (Petinomys fuscocapillus) has been eaten, and Indian scops owl (Otus bakkamoena), jungle owlet (Glaucidium radiatum) and Sri Lanka green pigeon (Treron pompadora) have been taken as prey in the Western Ghats.
During the breeding season (January to April) great hornbills become very vocal. They make loud duets, beginning with a loud "kok" given about once a second by the male, to which the female joins in. The pair then calls in unison, turning into a rapid mixture of roars and barks. They prefer mature forests for nesting. Large, tall and old trees, particularly emergents that rise above the canopy, seem to be preferred for nesting. They form monogamous pair bonds and live in small groups of 2-40 individuals. Group courtship displays involving up to 20 birds have been observed.
The female hornbill builds a nest in the hollow of a large tree trunk, sealing the opening with a plaster made up mainly of feces.She remains imprisoned there, relying on the male to bring her food, until the chicks are half developed. During this period the female undergoes a complete moult. The young chicks have no feathers and appear very plump. The mother is fed by her mate through a slit in the seal. The clutch consists of one or two eggs, which she incubates for 38–40 days. The female voids feces through the nest slit, as do the chicks from the age of two weeks. Once the female emerges from the nest, the chicks seal it again.
The young birds have no trace of a casque. After the second year the front extremity separates from the culmen, and in the third year it becomes a transverse crescent with the two edges growing outwards and upwards, while the anterior widens to the width of the rear end. Full development takes five years.
Roost sites are used regularly and birds arrive punctually at sunset from long distances, following the same routes each day. Several tall trees in the vicinity may be used, the birds choosing the highest branches with little foliage. They jockey for position until late at dusk. When sleeping they draw their neck back and the bill is held upwards at an angle.
The great hornbill is threatened mainly by habitat loss due to deforestation. It is hunted for its meat, fat and body parts like casque and tail feathers, which are used as adornments.Tribal peoples hunt the great Indian hornbill for its various parts. The beaks and head are used in charms and the flesh is believed to be medicinal. Young birds are considered a delicacy. Declines in population have been noted in many areas such as Cambodia.
Tribesmen in parts of northeastern India use the feathers for head-dresses, and the skulls are often worn as decorations.The Sema Nagas consider the flesh unfit for eating, believing that it produces sores on their feet, as in the bird. When dancing with the feathers of the hornbill, they avoid eating vegetables, as doing so is also believed to produce the same sores on the feet.
The great hornbill is listed in CITES Appendix I. It has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2018.Conservation programmes have attempted to provide tribes with feathers from captive hornbills and ceramic casques to substitute for natural ones.
Very few hornbills are held in captivity, and few of them breed well. Females at the nests are extremely easy to capture, and birds caught in the wild are mostly female. Breeding them in captivity has been notoriously difficult, with fewer than a dozen successful attempts. Their extreme selectivity for mates and their long and strong pair bonds make them difficult to maintain for breeding.
Captive great hornbills eat fruits and meat, a healthy diet consisting mostly of fruit and some source of protein. A few have been tamed in captivity but their behaviour in captivity is described as highly strung. Captive specimens bask in the sun with outstretched wings.
The great hornbill is called homrai in Nepal and banrao in Mussoorie, both meaning "King of the Jungle".It is the official state bird of the Indian states of Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh.
A great hornbill named William was the model for the logo of the Bombay Natural History Society and the name of the society's building. Norman Kinnear described William as follows in the obituary of Walter Samuel Millard:"Every visitor to the Society's room in Apollo Street will remember the Great Indian Hornbill, better known as the "office canary" which lived in a cage behind Millard's chair in Phipson & Co.'s office for 26 years and died in 1920. It is said its death was caused by swallowing a piece of wire, but in the past "William" had swallowed a lighted cigar without ill effects and I for my part think that the loss of his old friend was the principal cause."
Hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly coloured and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek. Hornbills have a two-lobed kidney. They are the only birds in which the first and second neck vertebrae are fused together; this probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill. The family is omnivorous, feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and sometimes cliffs. A number of mainly insular species of hornbill with small ranges are threatened with extinction, namely in Southeast Asia.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), founded on 15 September 1883, is one of the largest non-governmental organisations in India engaged in conservation and biodiversity research. It supports many research efforts through grants and publishes the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Many prominent naturalists, including the ornithologists Sálim Ali and S. Dillon Ripley, have been associated with it.
The painted stork is a large wader in the stork family. It is found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in the Indian Subcontinent and extending into Southeast Asia. Their distinctive pink tertial feathers of the adults give them their name. They forage in flocks in shallow waters along rivers or lakes. They immerse their half open beaks in water and sweep them from side to side and snap up their prey of small fish that are sensed by touch. As they wade along they also stir the water with their feet to flush hiding fish. They nest colonially in trees, often along with other waterbirds. The only sounds they produce are weak moans or bill clattering at the nest. They are not migratory and only make short distance movements in some parts of their range in response to changes in weather or food availability or for breeding. Like other storks, they are often seen soaring on thermals.
The Malabar gray hornbill is a hornbill endemic to the Western Ghats and associated hills of southern India. They have a large beak but lack the casque that is prominent in some other hornbill species. They are found mainly in dense forest and around rubber, arecanut or coffee plantations. They move around in pairs or small groups, feeding on figs and other forest fruits. Their loud cackling and laughing call makes them familiar to people living in the region.
The Malabar pied hornbill, also known as lesser pied hornbill, is a bird in the hornbill family, a family of tropical near-passerine birds found in the Old World.
The purple sunbird is a small bird in the sunbird family found mainly in South and Southeast Asia but extending west into parts of the Arabian peninsula. Like other sunbirds they feed mainly on nectar, although they will also take insects, especially when feeding young. They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers. The males can appear all black in harsh sunlight but the purple iridescence is visible on closer observation or under good light conditions. Females are olive above and yellowish below.
The Indian gray hornbill is a common hornbill found on the Indian subcontinent. It is mostly arboreal and is commonly sighted in pairs. It has grey feathers all over the body with a light grey or dull white belly. The horn is black or dark grey with a casque extending to the point of curvature of the horn. It is one of the few hornbill species found in urban areas in many cities where they are able to make use of large trees in avenues.
The rhinoceros hornbill is a large species of forest hornbill (Bucerotidae). In captivity it can live for up to 35 years. It is found in lowland and montane, tropical and subtropical climates and in mountain rain forests up to 1,400 metres in Borneo, Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, and southern Thailand.
The Abyssinian ground hornbill or northern ground hornbill is an African bird, found north of the equator, and is one of two species of ground hornbill. It is the second largest species of African hornbill, only surpassed by the slightly larger southern ground hornbill.
The Indian pied myna is a species of starling found in the Indian subcontinent. It is usually found in small groups mainly on the plains and low foothills. It is often seen within cities and villages although it is not as bold as the common myna. It produces a range of calls made up of liquid notes.
The wreathed hornbill is an Old World tropical bird of the hornbill family Bucerotidae, also called bar-pouched wreathed hornbill due to its distinctive blue-black band on its lower throat sac. It is named after its characteristic long, curved bill that develops ridges, or wreaths, on the casque of the upper mandible in adults. Males are black with a rufous crown, a white upper breast and face, and a yellow featherless throat. Females are uniformly black with a blue throat and are slightly smaller than males.
The yellow-throated bulbul is a species of songbird in the bulbul family of passerine birds. The species is endemic to southern peninsular India. They are found on scrub habitats on steep, rocky hills many of which are threatened by granite quarrying. It is confusable only with the white-browed bulbul with which its range overlaps but is distinctively yellow on the head and throat apart from the yellow vent. The calls of this species are very similar to that of the white-browed bulbul.
Bucerotiformes is an order of birds that contains the hornbills, ground hornbills, hoopoes and wood hoopoes. These birds were previously classified as members of Coraciiformes. The clade is distributed in Africa, Asia, Europe and Melanesia.
The rufous hornbill, also known as the Philippine hornbill and locally as kalaw, is a large species of hornbill endemic to the Philippines. The are referred by locals as the "clock-of-the-mountains" due to its large booming call which typically occur of every hour. It occurs in moist tropical lowland forest. They are now considered to be a threatened species and its reasons for decline being habitat destruction, hunting and poaching for the illegal pet trade.
The black-and-orange flycatcher or black-and-rufous flycatcher is a species of flycatcher endemic to the central and southern Western Ghats, the Nilgiris and Palni hill ranges in southern India. It is unique among the Ficedula flycatchers in having rufous coloration on its back and prior to molecular studies was suggested to be related to the chats and thrushes.
The Narcondam hornbill is a species of hornbill in the family Bucerotidae. It is endemic to the Indian island of Narcondam in the Andamans. Males and females have a distinct plumage. The Narcondam hornbill has the smallest home range out of all the species of Asian hornbills.
The oriental pied hornbill is an Indo-Malayan pied hornbill, a large canopy-dwelling bird belonging to the family Bucerotidae. Two other common names for this species are Sunda pied hornbill (convexus) and Malaysian pied hornbill.
Papikonda National Park is a national park in India, located near Rajamahendravaram in the Papi Hills of the Alluri Sitharama Raju and Eluru districts of Andhra Pradesh, and covering an area of 1,012.86 km2 (391.07 sq mi). It is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and home to some endangered species of flora and fauna. No part of Papikonda remains outside East and West Godavari districts after 2014 and the construction of Polavaram Dam.
A casque is an anatomical feature found in some species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In birds, it is an enlargement of the bones of the or the skull, either on the front of the face, or the top of the head, or both. The casque has been hypothesized to serve as a visual cue to a bird's sex, state of maturity, or social status; as reinforcement to the beak's structure; or as a resonance chamber, enhancing calls. In addition, they may be used in combat with other members of the same species, in the gathering of food, or in thermoregulation.