Greater Indian Hornbill is considered to be the largest member of the hornbill family. Scientifically known as Buceros bicornis, it is usually found inhabiting the forests of Indian subcontinent, the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, Indonesia. The average lifespan of the Great Pied Hornbill of India exceeds 35 years and may go upto 50 years in captivity.
Great Indian hornbill is known by a number of other names also, like
Great hornbill, Great pied hornbill, Large pied hornbill and
Great Indian Hornbill is a large bird, which grows to a height of
around 100 to 120 cm. It wingspan measures somewhere around 150 cm and
the tail feathers are 36 inches in length. The Great Hornbills of India
have an average weight of 6.5 pounds. The bright yellow and black casque
adorning the top of the huge bill of the bird adds to its magnificent
appeal. The casque is hollow and used only at the time of aerial casque
butting flights. The female hornbill is shorter than the male and has
blue eyes instead of red.
The diet of the Great Pied Hornbill of India consists primarily of
fruits. However, the bird supplements this with small mammals, birds,
lizards, snakes and insects.
The Great Pied Hornbills of India are known to form monogamous pair
bonds. They are mostly seen in groups of 2-40 individuals. Great Indian
hornbill forms a pair for many years and in some cases, for the entire
lifetime. The female hornbill lays 1-2 eggs at a time.
Unique Nesting Ritual
At the time of nesting, the female hornbill starts living in a tree
hollow sealed with dung and pellets of mud. The male collects the
pellets, swallows them and regurgitates small saliva-cased building
materials. This material is given to the female, along with food,
through a slit in the tree seal. The process of incubation continues for
6-8 weeks. The female hornbill comes out only after she has molted and
fresh feathers have grown on her and her young ones.
The population of Great Pied Hornbill of India is declining over the
years. The reason for this is habitat loss, along with hunting of the
bird for food and for its casques. Great Indian Hornbill has also been
listed in Appendix I of CITES and also as 'Lower Risk/Near Threatened'