Understand The Animals

Great Pied Hornbill

Buceros bicornis

 The largest of the nine horn bill species found on the Indian subcontinent, the Great Pied horn bill also has one of the widest ranges, living everywhere from sea level to heights of nearly 5,000 feet. Doing justice to its name, the Great Pied hornbill can have wingspans of nearly five feet, with tails that can measure three feet. It is an incredibly beautiful bird as well, covered in black plumage, with a yellow bill that curves downward. Most distinctively, the horn bill's head is topped with an ivory formation, also known as a casque.

 This particular species of horn bill is chiefly fruit-eaters. Great Indian Horn bills like to eat various types of berries. Horn bills swallow most of their food whole instead of breaking it down first. After they consume the food, they'll regurgitate what they cannot digest such as bones, and pits.

 The males and females are mated for life. The usual clutch size is about 2-4 white round eggs. Th incubation period is about 28 to 40 days. It takes for another 4-8 week for the youngsters to mature. The mothers, during this maturation period, remain with their offspring. The males take care of the females when they are incubating, and the offspring when they are young. The males would eat the food, regurgitate it and give it to the young horn bills.

 The female Great Pied horn bill's inability to leave her young is a story unto itself. She seals herself inside the hollow of a tree using her own feces (males help with the process from the outside), and stays there until her young are born.

 Nearing Extinction?

 Now these wonderful and beautiful horn bills are becoming rare. They are near the verge of extinction. The main causes of their endangerment are people hunting them for their meat and destroying their natural habitat.  Large-scale killing of Horn bills occur  in Pakhui Wildlife sanctuary ( A.P) for their out-sized beaks, which the Nyshi tribals wear on top of their headgear in line with an old tradition. Wearing the beak, the tribe believes, is a sign of valour and masculinity, and the fact that the Nyshi form 50% of Arunachal's population is a measure of the threat to the species.

 Wildlife Trust of India has made the saving of these endangered species a special project. As part of the project, a large hoarding carrying a warning that Horn bills are protected by the Village Forest Development Council, which would impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found killing the birds, was erected at the Seijosa check-gate of the sanctuary.  WTI's Rapid Action Programme quickly had a consignment of fiberglass beaks fabricated in Delhi and sent to Seijosa to wean the tribals away from killing Horn bills. 

 To muster maximum support and participation in this conservation effort, a host of key officials and other individuals were roped in to participate in the inaugural  function at Seijosa-- the District Commissioners of East Kameng and Pashighat, Chairmen of the various VFDCs, the Honorary Wildlife Warden, State Forest Department officials, village elders, local villagers, State Wildlife Advisory Board members, and representatives of the ANWF.

Van Rakshak Project.

WTI's campign against hunting horn bills continues in Arunachal Pradesh. 

Details of  five main types of horn bills which are found in India are given below.  These large birds are fairly easy to spot in our National Parks. 



Common Grey Horn bill  (Tockus birostris)


Great Pied Horn bill (Buceros bicornis)


Indian Pied Horn bill   (Anthracoceros malabaricus)


Malabar Pied Horn bill  ( Anthracoceros coronatus)


Malabar Grey Horn bill   (Tockus griseus)



size of a Pariah kite. About 24"(61cm)

The size of a Vulture. About 52"(130cm).

Smaller than the Vulture. About 35"(89cm)

The size of a Kite. About 36"(92cm).



The size of a Kite. About 23"(59cm).


Field Characteristics

 A brownish-grey, clumsy-looking bird. It has the typical 'horn-shaped' bill, black and white in colour, surmounted by a protuberance or casque

A large black and white hornbill. It has a massive yellow and black bill with a concave-topped casque. The feathers of the neck and wing bands are often tinged yellow, with the exudation from the tail glands.  



A large black and white hornbill, with a massive yellow and black bill. The bill has a typical casque, which ends in front in a single point. The black outer tail feathers are tipped white. 

A black and white hornbill, with a large black and yellow bill. It is very similar in appearance to the Indian Pied Hornbill. The outer tail feathers however, are entirely white.  



A slaty-grey hornbill. It lacks the peculiar casque on its bill. The head, crown, throat and breast are streaked white. The wing quills and tail are glossy black. The black tail is white-tipped except for the central pairs of retrices.  


Found in

Bandhavgarh N.P  Bandipur N.P 

Buxa Tiger Res.  Corbett N.P 

Dudwa N.P  Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary 

Kanha N.P  Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary 

Nagarahole N.P.   Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary



Bandipur N.P  Corbett N.P 

Dudwa N.P  Kaziranga N.P 

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary 

Nagarahole N.P  Namdapha T.R.

Periyar T.R.

Silent Valley N.P

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary 




Bandipur N.P  

Buxa T.R.  Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 

Corbett N.P.  Dudwa N.P.

Great Himalayan N.P.  Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary 

Kanha N.P  Kaziranga N.P 

Keibul Lamjao N.P

Namdapha T.R 

Palamau T.R  Panna N.P 

Pench N.P  Simlipal N.P 

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary 

Bandipur N.P  Buxa T.R 

Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary  Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary 

Nagarahole N.P  Periyar T.R 

SilentValley N.P

 Simlipal N.P 

Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary  Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary  Periyar Tiger Reserve 

Silent Valley National Park  Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary





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