Bird Families

Hornbill: short description, photo


  • The Indian hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) is a species of hornbill from the genus of the same name. It lives in the tropical forests of southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to the island of Borneo.

The Indian hornbill belongs to the large species, reaching a length of 65 cm. The plumage is predominantly black, with the exception of the white belly, areas on the throat and the underside of the tail. The yellow beak has a large hard hat, which is predominantly black. Male and female are the same, young birds have a smaller helmet.

The beak is strong only in appearance: these birds are not able to hollow out a hollow for themselves, and during nesting they find something already ready. The female lays in it from 2 to 3 white eggs, which then walled up from the inside. Leaves only a small gap - to throw out garbage and get food from the male.

The Indian hornbill is omnivorous, feeding on fruits, fish and small mammals.

Common signs

The rhino bird (photos are presented in the article) is one of the most curious, in terms of appearance, representatives of the feathered world. The variety of sizes and colors does not interfere with recognizing individuals of this family by the following features:

  • large and bright beaks,
  • unusual growth on the beak,
  • relatively short legs,
  • the head is small,
  • muscular long neck.

It is both secretive and quite noisy bird. Her flight is accompanied by sounds reminiscent of the movement of a train. They fly high and very well. They climb trees perfectly, because it is on them that they get their food. On the ground, they move heavily and awkwardly.

Sexual maturity occurs approximately at 3-4, in small species at 1-2 years. They are sedentary. Small representatives fly in small flocks of 20-40 individuals, large ones - in pairs.

The Indian hornbill is one of the largest members of the family. Growth reaches 1 meter in length, wingspan is 1.5 meters. The huge beak is decorated with a bright black and yellow outgrowth.

According to the data of the international organization for the protection of birds and the preservation of their environment (BirdLife International), as of December 2016, there were 62 species in the world, united in 14 genera:

  • Bucorvus is a horned raven. Large birds, weighing from 3 to 6 kg, throat and head without feathers, blue or red, sometimes two-colored. A distinctive feature is that it does not walled up a hollow.
  • Rhinoplax - helmet-billed. Live weight up to 3 kg, have a high growth of red color. The naked neck is red in males, in females it is bluish-purple.
  • Buceros are homrai. Weight 2-3 kg, have a very large, curved in front of the helmet.
  • Ceratogymna is a helmet-bearing. Maximum weight 2 kg, stand out with large build-up. The sides of the head and throat are naked, blue in color.
  • Rhyticeros. Large birds from 1.5 to 2.5 kg with high volume build-up.
  • Aceros. Up to 2.5 kg, they have a poorly developed growth in the form of a small hump.
  • Berenicornis are white-crested. They weigh up to 1.7 kg, there is a small horny outgrowth, in the female the cheeks and lower body are black, in the male they are white.
  • Bycanistes are African. Live weight from 0.5 to 1.5 kg, with a pronounced large helmet.
  • Anthracoceros are hornbills. Weight up to 1 kg, their helmet is smooth and large, with a bare throat.
  • Ptilolaemus. Up to 900 grams, there is a small pronounced growth, the skin around the eyes is bare, blue in color.
  • Anorrhinu are brown. Up to 900 grams in weight, stand out with a dark helmet, chin and areas around the eyes are naked, blue.
  • Penelopides are Filipino. Small - up to 500 grams in weight, with a pronounced helmet, transverse folds are clearly visible on the beak.
  • Tropicranus. Weigh within 500 grams.
  • Tockus - currents. Small, weighing up to 400 grams, the helmet is small, in some species it is absent.


The tropical hornbill prefers woody landscapes. On the African continent, birds can be found from mountainous and equatorial wet forests to savannas and dry woodlands. Several species can coexist on the same territory. They coexist peacefully, occupying various ecological niches.

These birds are found in the southwest of the Arabian Peninsula, on the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, in Southeast Asia. Hornbills are no longer found in Madagascar and Australia. Some species are endemic (live in a geographically limited area). Birds practically do not settle in places cultivated by people. They prefer virgin forests.


There is no clearly limited nesting period. Despite the diversity of species, most birds share a curious way of incubating their eggs. First, the male chooses a suitable nest. He himself cannot hollow it out, so he is looking for a suitable abandoned dwelling. Invites the female to the "bride", after the approval of the house, the birds mate.

Before the female lays eggs, the hollow is almost completely walled up with a mixture of earth, wood dust, fruit pulp, clay and droppings. All components are held together by saliva. There remains a small hole through which the male feeds first the female, and then the chicks. Sometimes lonely young males help him in this difficult task. In large birds, the number of eggs does not exceed three. In smaller ones, it reaches 7.

The shelter protects future offspring from snakes, monkeys and other egg lovers. The incubation period lasts 6 to 8 weeks. During the incubation period, the female has time to completely change plumage. The male molts during the rainy season. In many species, couples are created for life. The hollow has been used for several years.

Hatching begins after the first egg appears, so chicks may have different ages. Constant control over the safety of the offspring leads to the fact that the wall is built and destroyed several times. First, the female flies out of the hollow after the end of the molt. Then the fledgling children, as they grow older, get out and learn to fly. After each exit of the next chick from the shelter, the wall collapses and is restored again, and so on until the last chick leaves the hollow. Chicks begin to learn to fly at the age of 3-4 months. They remain in the family until the next breeding season, and sometimes longer.

This behavior is not typical for all members of the species. Horned crows choose hollows mainly in baobab trees. They can settle in rock crevices. They do not brick up their "houses".


Almost all species of hornbill are omnivorous. The habitat and the size of the beak dictate an addiction to different diets:

  • Carnivorous. The birds feed on insects, small vertebrates, molluscs, amphibians, and small birds. These species include the Kaffir horned raven, and the Monteira current eats only insects.
  • Vegetable. This diet is preferred by forest dwellers. The main food for them is the fruits of tropical trees. These include the black-helmeted and gold-helmed kalao
  • Mixed. This type of food is typical for the Indian hornbill (pictured). In the crowns of trees, they find fruits, insects, and small animals. Their large size allows them to easily cope with small vertebrates.

Only a few species are able to drink water. Most people get their needed amount of liquid from food.

The threat of extinction

The hornbill is a forest dweller. For a full life, she needs spacious perennial forests. Several reasons put their existence at risk:

  • deforestation,
  • the factor of disturbance by people in nesting places,
  • hunting birds for eating, treating diseases, making souvenirs,
  • ravaging nests: bird traders kill the female and take the chicks for sale.

The saddest situation is with three types:

  • Anthracoceros montani (Suluan hornbill), it is known that the birds survived on the island of Tavi-Tavi. Their total number is only 40 individuals.
  • Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni or red-headed hornbill. The population is no more than 4000 birds.
  • Rhinoplax vigil (helmeted hornbill) - the number is steadily declining.

In addition, two species are critically endangered, five are vulnerable, and twelve are close to extinction.