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Rhinoceros Hornbill

About Rhinoceros Hornbill

This is a large bird with broad wings, long tail and a very large down curving bill topped by a bony casque. Front are 3 toes webbed at base. Feathers are mainly black with green gloss in the male apart from white thighs and undertail; tail white with broad black band; legs olive green; bill and casque ivory to pale yellow, often stained orange-red with preen oil; males have red eyes with surrounding bare skin that is black; females have white eyes with an orange surrounding ring.

These birds breed in nests in tree holes. The female will seal herself inside for defense against predators using mainly her own droppings, leaving a small hole for her bill to protrude. They have 1-2 white eggs, taken care of by the female. The male feeds her and the chicks for about 3 months and then she will break free.

These impressive birds usually hunt in pairs, though small flocks will gather at fruiting trees outside the breeding season. This bird plucks fruit from trees with its immense bill, manipulating the food delicately in the tip. It can crush larger inedible parts of a fruit. The bill, casque and white parts of the plumage are often stained with its orange-red preen oil. It collects this by wiping its bill on the preen gland at the base of its tail and then applies it to its plumage before cleaning it.

The wings of the Rhinoceros Hornbill make a very loud whooshing noise when it flies. These are among the most characteristic sounds of the forest where this magnificent bird still occurs, though logging is reducing numbers in many places, and the bird is also hunted for food.