Other Names- Great Indian Hornbill, Great Pied Hornbill
Scientific Name– Buceros bicornis
Meaning of Name- “bicornis” means having two horns refers to shape of the bill of this bird.
IUCN Category- Near Threatened
State Bird- Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh
Field Characters and Behaviour- Hornbills are usually seen in small parties with larger groups aggregating on fruit trees. A congregation of 150-200 birds has been recorded in Southeastern Bhutan. Fruits of fig trees are among favorite foods of this bird but they are seen feeding on small birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.
Breeding- Breeding season starts from January and extends up to April. These birds become very vocal during breeding season. They make loud duets, beginning with a loud “kok” given about once a second by the male, to which the female joins in. The pair then calls in unison, turning into a rapid mixture of roars and barks. They prefer mature forests for nesting. Large, tall and old trees, particularly emergents that rise above the canopy, seem to be preferred for nesting. They form monogamous pair bonds and live in small groups of 2-40 individuals. Group courtship displays involving up to 20 birds have been observed.
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 one or two 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 young birds have no trace of a casque. After the second year the front extremity separates from the culmen, and in the third year it becomes a transverse crescent with the two edges growing outwards and upwards, while the anterior widens to the width of the rear end. Full development takes five years.