Great Hornbill

Great Hornbill    Buceros bicornis


  • Buceros : Latin word for Horned like an Ox derived from bous –ox ; keros- horn
  • Bicornis : Latin word for two-horned derived from bi– two-; cornu – horn

Vernacular Names: Hindi, U.P.: Banrao Dhanesh, Ben: Raj dhanesh, Ass: Raj dhanesh, Cachar: Dao yung, Lepcha: Kugrong, Kudong, Naga: Inrui go, Nepal: Homrai, Mar: Garud, Mahadhanesh, Mal: Malamorakki, Vezhambal, Komban vezhambal, Kan: Garuda

The hornbills are important large seed dispersers, promoting seedling recruitment by translocating the seeds of the fruits they feed on. Few other bird species outside the hornbill family have large enough gape widths to allow them to disperse large seeds to special microsites or open habitats. Seed dispersal behavior of hornbills thus helps shape forest communities, and disruption of this animal-plant interaction may have significant impacts on the reshaping of forest communities.

 Distribution in India: Resident in Himalayas, North east and Western Ghats.

Description: Size of 95–105 cm; wt. of male 2600–3400 g, female 2155–3350 g. It’s a very large, pied hornbill with black band across white tail; long, deep bill, and white plumage areas of head, neck and wing-coverts, usually cosmetically coloured yellow with preen oil. The male has flat casque double-pointed at front, with black rim; black-rimmed red eyes. The female is smaller; casque is smaller and without black; eyes white, with red rim that flushes brighter when breeding.

Habitat: It is found in large tracts of primary evergreen forest, and open areas between forest patches. It occurs at up to 2000 m.

Food Habits: It eats mainly fruit, sometimes flowers and buds; also many large insects and other arthropods, besides various small reptiles, birds and mammals. It feeds mainly in canopy, but will descend to ground for fallen fruit.It usually feeds in pairs or family groups, but sometimes gathers in numbers at fruiting trees and roosts in flocks in non-breeding season.

 Breeding Habits: They breed between Jan-Apr in India. They are monogamous and territorial, sometimes engaging in aerial casque-butting. 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 female and chicks are fed in nest by male, with up to 185 items daily, or 43 g per hour, regurgitated from gullet. The fledging period is 72–96 days. The total nesting cycle is 102–140 days.