Oriental Pied Hornbill

Oriental Pied Hornbill    Anthracoceros albirostris


  • Anthracoceros : Greek word anthrax  –coal black ; keros  –
  • Albirostris : Latin word albus – white: rostris -billed

Vernacular Names: Ass: Hay tuk tek ee, Kao dhanesh, Cachar: Dao yung kashiba, Te: Pedda chupanati, Mar: Prachya Kavdya Dhanesh

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 of Himalayas, east India and North East India.

Description: Size: 55-60 cm; wt. of male 680–907 g, female 567–879 g. It has a plumage of black with a slight green sheen on the head, neck, back, wings and upper breast. The tail is black with white tips on all the feathers except the central feathers (rectories). The plumage of their lower breast, lower abdomen, thighs, under-wing and all the tips of the wings except the three basal secondaries and two outer primaries is white, as is the orbital skin around the eyes and on the throat skin. A blue tinge can sometimes be noticed on the throat of adults.  The casque of adults are laterally flattened “cylinders”, which may form a protruding horn. Males and females are similar in coloration. Males can be distinguished from females by their larger body size, yellow bill, which has a black base, and bright red eyes. Females have a slightly smaller body size, a yellow bill and casque with a partly black, browned patched mandible, and grayish-brown eyes. The juvenile less glossy black, casque undeveloped, bill small and all pale yellow

Habitat: It is found in dry and semi-evergreen forests, dry and moist deciduous forests, subtropical broadleaf forests, secondary forests, plantations and woodlands.

Food Habits: It eats small fruits and berries, especially figs; also eats various insects, lizards, mice and nestlings; sometimes flower petals.

 Breeding Habits: They breed between Jan-May 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 1-2 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 46 days.