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A photo of a Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris), male
Oriental Pied Hornbill, Male

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Anthracoceros albirostris

The Oriental Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris, is a striking bird, one of the smaller and more commonly encountered hornbills in Asia. It is distinguished by its black and white plumage and the remarkable casque atop its bill—a feature shared by other hornbills. Males are slightly larger than females and possess a predominantly yellow bill with a black base and vivid red eyes, while females have a yellow bill with a black and brown patch on the mandible and more subdued grayish-brown eyes.

Identification Tips

Adult Oriental Pied Hornbills measure between 55 to 60 cm from head to tail, with a wingspan ranging from 23 to 36 cm. The male's bill is around 19 cm, while the female's is slightly shorter at 16 cm. They weigh between 600 g and 1,050 g. The plumage is primarily black with a green sheen, except for the white on the lower breast, abdomen, and tips of the wings. The tail is black with white tips, except for the central feathers. Juveniles resemble adults but have an undeveloped casque and less glossy plumage.

Habitat

These birds are found in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, including dry and semi-evergreen forests, deciduous forests, broadleaf forests, secondary forests, plantations, and woodlands.

Distribution

The Oriental Pied Hornbill has an extensive range across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Tibet, Vietnam, and the Sunda shelf islands.

Behaviour

These hornbills are known to feed in flocks, particularly outside the breeding season. They are also important seed dispersers, contributing to the health and diversity of their forest habitats.

Song & Calls

Their vocalizations are varied and include crow-like sounds, braying noises, and harsh crackles and screeches.

Breeding

Breeding season typically begins in February, with hornbills being monogamous and nesting in cavities. The female seals herself inside the nest with her chicks, leaving only a small opening for the male to pass food through.

Similar Species

The Oriental Pied Hornbill can be confused with other pied hornbills, but its smaller size and distinctive casque shape help differentiate it.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet is diverse, consisting of fruit, insects, shellfish, small reptiles, and occasionally small mammals and birds. They show a preference for certain fruit trees and adjust their diet seasonally to meet nutritional needs.

Conservation status

Currently listed as Least Concern, the Oriental Pied Hornbill is the most adaptable hornbill species to habitat changes. However, it faces threats from logging and hunting, which impact nesting sites and food availability. Conservation efforts include captive breeding and reintroduction programs.

In the voice of David Attenborough: "The Oriental Pied Hornbill, a master of the forest canopy, is a remarkable example of nature's grand design. With its striking black and white plumage and the casque crowning its bill, this bird is a sight to behold. As it soars through the forest, its wings create a symphony of sounds, while its role as a seed disperser makes it an integral part of the forest's complex web of life. Despite facing challenges, this resilient species continues to thrive across its vast range, reminding us of the enduring power of the natural world."

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Oriental Pied Hornbills on Birda

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