Monday, February 6

Malabar grey hornbill

   ›      ›   Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus.

The Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) belongs to the family of hornbills, Bucerotidae.

These hornbill species are endemic to the Western Ghats and associated Eastern Ghats of southern India. These hornbill species are mostly frugivores, found mainly in dense forest habitats. The Malabar grey hornbill is a monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Malabar grey hornbill Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Malabar grey hornbill - Overview

  • Scientific name: Ocyceros griseus
  • Species author: (Latham, 1790)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Buceros griseus Latham, 1790, Tockus griseus, Lophoceros griseus
  • Family: Bucerotidae › Bucerotiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Malabar grey hornbill, Chinese: 印度灰犀鸟, French: Calao gris, German: Malabartoko, Spanish: Cálao gris malabar, Russian: Малабарский токо, Japanese: ニシインドコサイチョウ, Tamil: Ottrai Iruvaayan
  • Other names: Malabar Gray-Hornbill
  • Distribution: endemic to Western Ghats of southwest India
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, berries, insects, lizards, small rodents
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) is closely related to Sri Lanka grey hornbill (Ocyceros gingalensis).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) is a large bird, measuring 45 cm in length and weighting 240 to 340 grams.
It is a small hornbill with a large beak, lacking the casque of other hornbill species. The Malabar grey hornbill species have overall grayish plumage. There is a whitish eyebrow stripe running down to the neck. The wings are grayish brown. The black primary flight feathers and the long black tail feathers are tipped with white. The underparts are grayish with white streaks and the vent region is rufous.

The beak in male is large, pale reddish orange with yellowish tip. In females, the bill is yellow with lower mandible blackish at the base. There is a black stripe along the dorsal ridge of the upper mandible. The irises are yellowish orange. Their call is a "cackling" and "laughing" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus
Birds of India - Image of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus
Photo of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus
Indian birds - Picture of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus
Indian birds - Picture of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus
Birds of India - Photo of Malabar grey hornbill - Ocyceros griseus

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Malabar grey hornbill species are endemic to southwestern India, distributed in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA) and also the adjoining Eastern Ghats. They occur in the states of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra.

Some of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the Malabar grey hornbill species in South India are, Amarambalam Reserved Forest - Nilambur, Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Anshi National Park, Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary, Vazhachal Forest Division, Thattekad Wildlife Sanctuary, Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarhole National Park, Kudremukh National Park and Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Malabar grey hornbill species have high forest dependency. They inhabit hilly evergreen and deciduous forest ecosystems. These hornbill species inhabit rural gardens and rubber, arecanut and coffee plantations. These species occur in altitudes of about 600 meters.

In natural environments, these hornbills inhabit tropical dry forests, subtropical dry forests, tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests and tropical and subtropical moist montane forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Malabar grey hornbill species is mostly fruits and berries. Berries, especially figs are the primary food. They also feed occasionally on insects, lizards and small rodents.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these Malabar grey hornbill species is from January to May in the Western Ghats. They usually nest in cavities in large trees. Trees of the species Lagerstroemia microcarpa, Terminalia bellirica and Terminalia crenulata are prefered. These bird species are monogamous and they use the same nest sites year after year.

The Malabar grey hornbill female cements the tree hollow with her droppings and lays three to four white eggs. The female moults off her flight feathers in the nest cavity. A small hole is retained in the entrance to the nest through which the female and the young void excreta and receive food from the male. The male hornbill regurgitates the berries one at a time, shifting it to the the tip of the bill, passes it on to the female.

Migration and movement patterns

The Malabar grey hornbill is a non-migrant, resident, stationary bird.
Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding in their range. Sometimes they become nomadic when dearth of food occurs.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) has not been quantified. The overall population size of these species is considered to be declining. Throughout its range it is reported to be fairly common. The generation length is 10.3 years. Their distribution size is about 271,000 sq.km.

The Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. The deforestation and the ongoing habitat destruction in the Western Ghats are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these hornbill species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the hornbill species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Ocyceros griseus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Bucerotiformes
Family:Bucerotidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Ocyceros
Species:O. griseus
Binomial name:Ocyceros griseus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grey_Horn_Bill.jpg
Image author: Mithan B M | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malabar_Grey_Hornbill-9032.jpg
Image author: Rudraksha Chodankar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malabar_Grey_Hornbill_@_Nilambur.jpg
Image author: Vivekpuliyeri | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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