HORNBILLS  

The Bucerotidae family has 55 species worldwide. These birds are found in tropical part Africa and Asia and unique fact is that birds from the two regions are different and species do not exist in both environment.

There are 24 species in Africa of which 13 of then are birds of the open country grassland and savanna. The remaining are found in dense forest. Even so, none of the African species Hornbills would be classified as threatened.

Quite an opposite scenario is seen in Asia. There are only 12 species recorded in South East Asia and only 1 of them is a bird from the open country. Otherwise almost al the Hornbills are forest species. Most species of Hornbill in Asia are classified as "threatened" due to serious habitat losses.

 

  Black Hornbill  
       
  Bushy Crested Hornbill

 

 
       
  Great Hornbill  
       
  Helmeted Hornbill  
       
  Oriental-pied Hornbill  
       
  Plain-pouch Hornbill  
       
 

Rhinoceros Hornbill

 
       
 

White-crowned Hornbill

 
       
 

Wreath Hornbill

 
       
 

Wrinkled Hornbill

 
       

 

Most Hornbills are in black & white colors and the birds has an oversized, down curved bills. The shape of the curved bills have resemblance of a cow horn and this feature earned the bird its name. These bills too are in black and white but a couple of species have them in bright colors or patterns on them.

On top of the upper mandible, there may a casque on it. This extra large bill do its other purpose apart from looks, like that of assisting in fights. The large bills do not hamper the bird in performing its mundane task of preening, picking up fruits and catching preys, . One useful task the bills do which I have seen is the hammering on the tree trunk to construct its nest.

Then the casque, if there is one for the species, is a hollow structure that runs the entire length. It is useful in reinforcing the large upper mandible. In some species there are extra openings along the casque allowing it to serve as resonators for calls. On the contrary, the casque of the Helmeted Hornbill is of very solid ivory and it s serve the bird well as battering rams in aerial joists.

The neck is properly evolved with strong muscles and fused vertebrate to support the heavy head and bills.

Hornbill is omnivorous and they feed on fruits and small animals. The Hornbills we see in Malaysia arboreal birds but there are also terrestrial  Hornbills such as Ground Hornbill of the savanna. Our very own Oriental Pied in Pangkor island with habitat change is seen very often foraging on the ground.

 

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