Hornbills

Hornbills

With 55 species as part of the hornbill family, these birds have a lot of variety. Some hornbills, like the ones pictured in this blog, have large downward curving bills, while others look striking with heavy ‘casques’ on top of the bill adding to its considerable size. (For pictures of hornbills with casques, go here.) All the bills require strong neck muscles, which these birds have. But they are also the only family of birds to have the second and third neck vertebrae fused in order to support the weight of the bill. They are fun-looking birds with colorful bills. 

Videos of Hornbills: Here’s a 1-minute video showcasing the call of the yellow-billed hornbill. This is a fun, 1.5-minute video of the care, feeding and final emergence of a young hornbill from the nest. 

FunFacts about Hornbills: (Source)

  • Basic information, quote: The hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, “buceros” being “cow horn” in Greek. (Source)
  • There are 55 species in the Bucerotidae family.
  • Given the size and weight of the bill, it’s possible that the reason hornbills have their second and third neck vertebrae fused together – the only birds to have this physiological feature – is to manage the bill.
  • The large bill helps the hornbill in fighting, constructing nests, preening and catching prey.
  • Hornbills are omnivorous and feed on fruit and small animals.
  • Hornbills are monogamous and nest in natural tree cavities and sometimes in cliffs.
  • Several species of hornbills are close to extinction.
  • Hornbills vary greatly in size from the smallest species, the black dwarf hornbill which is only 32 cm (1 ft 1 in) in length to the largest species which is the southern ground hornbill which can weigh up to 6.3 kg (14 lb) and has a wingspan of up to 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) across.
  • Hornbills can be black, grey, white, or brown, but often have brightly colored bills.
  • Hornbills have binocular vision as well as large eyelashes which act as a sunshade.
  • Hornbills generally travel in pairs or small family groups.
  • In order to swallow their prey, hornbills have to jerk their heads to toss the food into their throats.
  • Female hornbills lay up to six white eggs in existing holes or crevices, either in trees or rocks.
  • Fascinating nesting process, the female gets sealed into the nest after which she lays her eggs and stays put, quote: Before incubation, the females of all Bucerotinae—sometimes assisted by the male—begin to close the entrance to the nest cavity with a wall made of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, the entrance is just large enough for her to enter the nest, and after she has done so, the remaining opening is also all but sealed shut. There is only one narrow aperture, big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and eventually the chicks. The function of this behaviour is apparently related to protecting the nesting site from rival hornbills. The sealing can be done in just a few hours; at most it takes a few days… When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the mother breaks out the nest and both parents feed the chicks. In some species the mother rebuilds the wall, whereas in others the chicks rebuild the wall unaided. (Source)
  • Some species of hornbills in Africa have a mutually supportive relationship with dwarf mongooses. They forage together and warn each other of nearby predators.
  • A hornbill named Zazu was the king’s advisor in The Lion King franchise.

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Disclaimer: As with any food, herbal remedy, beverage or concept on this blog, be sure to contact your physician before eating, imbibing or using for medical purposes any substance discussed on this blog. Always err on the side of caution and keep yourself well-informed. ~ Caris Roane

(Unless otherwise designated, today’s photos are from Pixabay ~ Pixabay is a free site, so feel free to share, pin and enjoy these wonderful photos. Any photo designated as coming from Deposit Photos has been purchased and is subject to copyright law.)

*** Note: The hornbill family has a lot of different species. The photos today are primarily of red-billed and yellow-billed hornbills.

I hope you enjoyed these photos. Be sure to keep scrolling to leave a comment for the weekly prize draw. Details below!

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* * * This Week’s Giveaway is Closed * * *

We have a winner! Congrats Patty M.!!!

October Winners: Donna W., Sheryl P., April M.!!!

September Winners: Christine M., BN, Linda K., Lynn G.!

To be in the running for this handcrafted paranormal romance bracelet, made by yours truly, OR a $15 Amazon Gift Card, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Also, feel free to post comments on both Caris Roane blogs ~~ Monday and Wednesday ~~ to increase your chances of winning this week’s prize drawing. Only one win per month allowed, otherwise no limits!

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To be entered into the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment about hornbills. Have you ever seen these birds before? Which photo did you like best?

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30 thoughts on “Hornbills

  1. There are so many interesting species of hornbills. I’d like to see the ones that work together with the dwarf mongooses.

  2. I enjoyed watching the videos. I like all the pictures but really like the first one besides the eighth and ninth pictures. I think the hornbills have some interesting bills.

  3. What spectacular birds. Fascinating information about sealing up the nest after the female lays her eggs. I loved the photo of the bird eating from the man’s hand. The photo of the bird ready to eat that grasshopper gave me the shivers. I don’t like grasshoppers, so I won’t fight him over his meal.

    Fort Myers, Florida

  4. I like photo #9 with the red beak. The helmet hornbill that’s in your link to casques was really a unusual bird.

  5. Enjoyed the videos and pictures (#9 with the red beak). Those beaks look so heavy too, no wonder they have such strong necks. Wouldn’t want to get nipped by those beaks! AZ

  6. Their eyes are mean looking and those beaks look like they can take a finger off with no trouble. Other than that, they’re pretty.

  7. I have never seen those birds before. Their beaks remind me of a Toucan. Loved the picture of the bird eating out of a person’s hand.

    New York

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