Indian Grey Hornbill

Indian Grey Hornbill   Ocyceros birostris


  • Ocyceros : Greek word for pointed horns.
  • Birostris : Latin word bi– two-; –rostris -billed

Vernacular Names :  Hindi: Dhanmar, Dhand, Dhanel, Lamdar, Chalotra, Dhanesh, Selagilli, Pun: Dhanchiri, M.P: Selagilli, Ben: Puttial dhanesh, Guj: Chilotro, Mar: Bhartiya Rakhi Dhanesh, Bhinas, Ori: Kochilakhai, Ta: Munu mukkula kaka, Irawakke, Te: Rendu mukkula guwa, Supanati, Kommu kasiri, Mal: Nattu vezhambal, Kan: Boodu kodukokku

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: Widespread Resident in India.

Description: Size of 50 cm, wt of 375 g. It is a small, silvery-grey and white hornbill; tail is long and graduated with dark and light tip. The male has blackish bill and narrow casque, latter with protruding front edge, bill tip and much of lower mandible pale yellow; bare skin around eyes grey, eyes red-brown The female is smaller, the casque and anterior protrusion are both less prominent; lacks white tips to primaries; iris browner.

Habitat: It is found in deciduous woodland, parkland and open thorn-forest, especially among scattered fig trees and in areas of rural cultivation or gardens.

Food Habits: It eats small fruits, especially figs; also eats various insects, lizards, mice and nestlings; sometimes flower petals. It flies from tree to tree in search of food; sometimes descends to hop about on ground and flies up to hawk insects.

 Breeding Habits: They breed between Feb-June 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, regurgitated from gullet. The fledging period is 50 days.