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Title : Facts about Great Hornbill Previous topic PreviousNext Next topic

The Great Indian Hornbill is a huge bird, are most commonly found in southeastern Asia.In South Asia they are found in a few forest areas in the Western Ghats and in the forests along the Himalayas. Their distribution extends into Thailand, Burma, Malaya and Sumatra. Their habitat is dense old growth (unlogged) forests in hilly regions.In Thailand the home ranges of males was found to be about 3.7 km² during the breeding season and about 14.7 km² during the non-breeding season.They are belonging to the Bucerotidae Family.It is known by a number of other names also, like Great pied hornbill, large pied hornbill, Concave-casqued hornbill, etc.

These hornbills are found on sea level up to 5000 feet (1524m) above ground. Great Hornbills can grow to a length of 4.5 feet (1.4m). The body is covered with black feathers and the wing tips have a ban of white feathers. The tail, sometimes reaching up to 3 feet (7.6cm), is white with bans of black feathers across. The neck of this bird is surrounded with circle of fur. The bill is yellow and curved downward. One distinct mark of the hornbills is their bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill, a helmet like head and is solid ivory. The casque is hollow with little functions although they are believed to be the result of sexual selection. Male hornbills have been known to indulge in aerial casque butting flights. Females are smaller than males and have blue instead of red eyes. They usually have short legs, but have broad feet.

Great Indian hornbills are omnivorous and eat a combination of fruit, insects, and other small animals. The birds can use the tip of their bills as fingers to pluck fruit from trees or animals off of the ground. The edges of the bills are notched like a saw for grasping and tearing.

Great hornbills breed between the months of February and May.Reproduction patterns in hornbills are complex and unique. The pairs will perform a courtship ritual that may include preening, feeding, wing and tail displays, and even beating their bills on the ground. Then they will spend several days choosing just the right tree hollow to line with leaves, grass, and feathers. The female will then seal herself up in the tree hollow for up to four months while raising her chicks, using regurgitated food, droppings, and mud brought to her by the male to seal the opening of the tree hollow until only a small slit remains. This creates an almost predator-proof nest.

The female will lay her eggs and sit on them while the male flies back and forth bringing her whole or regurgitated food, which he feeds to her through the slit. The female keeps the nest clean by dropping all waste outside through the small opening.

Great Hornbill may live up to fifty years of age in captivity, but range from 35 to 40 in the wild.Male great hornbills use tactile forms of communication to compete for mates. Males collide bill casques, often in flight, during the time proceeding the breeding season. The size of male bill casques also likely serves as visual communication to potential mates.

Great hornbills tend to stay in small groups of monogamous pairs and their offspring. They are active during the day and at night they gather in large communal roosts which may contain hundreds of individuals. They are a non-migratory species but generally move within an area of 14.7 square kilometers. Males fight each other by butting their casques, possibly as a display of dominance in competition for females. One notable behavioral feature is the sealing up of the female in the nest tree during the breeding season.

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