Great Indian Hornbill

Great Indian Hornbill    Buceros bicornis

Type of Animal:

Tropical forest

Nepal, much of W. Ghats & N.E. India, Indochina, parts of Malaysia, Sumatra

Largest Asian hornbill species w/ males larger than females. Males have more pronounced yellow casque than females. Both sexes black w/ some yellowish-whitish feathers. Back of casque reddish in females, black in males. Males have red iris w/ black skin surrounding, females white iris w/ pink/red skin surrounding.

Fruit, lizards, small snakes, turtle/tortoise hatchlings, rodents, songbirds, poultry, small pigeons, insects, owlets, owl chicks, crocodilian hatchlings, berries, newborn pythons, snails, eggs

Status in Wild:

Breeding from zoos & private breeders

Monogamous pairs, though flocks of 12-15 can be found outside of breeding/nesting season

Additional Info:


Male-6.6 lbs
Female-5.7 lbs
Young-1.3 lbs

1.5-2 months

Male-3.4 ft
Female-3 ft

Body Length:
Male-3.4 ft
Female-3 ft

Life Span: 
30 years in wild, up to 50 years in captivity

Tail Length:
3 ft

Main predators of adults are large pythons, tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, black bears, dholes, & large raptors. Civets, sun bears, sloth bears, primates, smaller felids, snakes, & smaller raptors eat chicks.

Calls & wing beats can be heard more than half a mile away.

Threatened due to logging, habitat loss, pet trade, & hunting for feathers/meat.

Due to frugivorous diet, they’re very important seed dispersers.

Casque takes 4-5 years to develop.

While casque looks heavy, it is actually light and hollow.

They love to bask in the sun.

Fights highly ritualized involving jousting of casques.

Fun Fact(s):
In some cultures, they represent war gods.

Tribesmen in much of range often wear hornbill feathers as headdresses & heads as decorations. Flesh believed to be medicinal.

These birds can be docile but do become more aggressive during breeding/nesting season, especially males.

Like all arboreal hornbills, female nests in tree cavity w/ wall made of mud, fruit pulp & poop. Hole big enough for female to fit into & once she’s in she walls herself up for 3 months, leaving narrow opening for male to feed her/brood. Male defends territory. While walled up, female undergoes complete molt. When chicks & mom too big, mom breaks out w/ both parents feeding chicks.

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