Great Hornbill

(Buceros bicornis)



3-4 feet long, approximately 5-8 pounds, average wingspan 5 feet


Hornbills can live up to 50 years in captivity.

Population in  the Wild:

Exact numbers unknown, but population is decreasing.

 Family life:


Female incubates 1-2 eggs for 38-40 days.




Forests with many large trees.  Older trees have cavities where these birds nest.



Not fast flyers, but their huge wings make thumping noises as they flap.

What they eat:


Will hop from branch to branch looking for fruits.

Closest  Relatives:

Related to kingfishers

Relationship to Humans:




Tribes in India value the hornbill because they think it has medicinal properties. The beak and feathers of the hornbill are used in tribal headdresses and jewelry.

photo Mukesh Jain at wikimedia

Cool Fact:

When these hornbills are ready to breed the female finds a cavity, or hole, in a tree where she lays her eggs.  Her mate closes the opening to the nest with mud, leaving a small space where he can pass food to the female and the chicks.  The whole family depends on the dad until the chicks are old enough to fledge and leave the nest

Conservation Story:

The Greater Hornbill is threated due to habitat loss.  People clear forests to make space for more farmland and new villages.  As the older forests are cleared there are fewer trees that have the cavities these hornbills need to raise their young.  But people donít want to see the hornbills just disappear. 

What is being done now?

Habitat for hornbills and many other species is being preserved in places like Nameri National Park and Kaziranga National Park.

What should be done in the future?

More natural forests should be protected for the hornbill.


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.