Hornbill Facts

  1. Hornbills and toucans are from different families. Toucans are from the family Ramphastidae and hornbills are from the family Bucerotidae.
  2. Hornbills are found in Africa and Asia
  3. There are 10 species of hornbills in Peninsula Malaysia and 8 species of hornbills in Borneo.
  4. Hornbills nest in tree cavities that are formed naturally (hornbills cannot make these tree cavities themselves). Trees form cavities due to fungal infection or holes that were created by woodpeckers or sunbears.
  5. Hornbill nest trees are usually very tall. Helmeted hornbills have nested in trees as tall as 27m-70m. They prefer trees from the family, Dipterocarpaceae , which also has commercial value because it is a type of hard wood timber tree.
  6. Hornbills tend to return to the same nest tree year after year.
  7. The female hornbill seals itself inside the tree cavity (depending on species, it uses the pulp of fruits, wood debris, arthropods, mud and faeces as it’s sealing materials) and the male hornbill brings food to the female and chick (food items such as fig fruits, insects, snakes, millipede and snails). The female and chick are totally dependent on the male for food.
  8. Hornbills are monogamous, meaning they pair for life.
  9. Bushy crested hornbills are cooperative breeders, meaning a pair will raise their young with helpers.
  10. Ecological service – hornbills consume big seeds and regurgitate them, usually undamaged and deposit them far from parent tree, making them nature’s gardener. They help grow more trees in the forest.
  11. Helmeted hornbill and Red Knobbed Hornbill spends about 6 months to breed, longest breeding period among other Asian hornbills.
  12. Hornbills are threatened by deforestation – loss of large trees with suitable nest cavities and loss of fruiting trees. The Helmeted Hornbill is being hunted in Asia for its casque (ivory) and is now critically endangered on the IUCN red list.