Oriental pied hornbill

   ›      ›   Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris

The oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) belongs to the family of hornbills, Bucerotidae.

These hornbill species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and Southeast Asia. The oriental pied hornbills are large, frugivorous, canopy-dwelling birds, inhabiting tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests. There are two recognized subspecies of these hornbills.

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

Appearance, physical description and identification

The oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) is a medium-sized, pied hornbill, measuring 55 to 60 cm in length. The males are slightly larger and weigh 680 to 900 grams whereas the females weigh 570 to 880 grams. The wingspan is 25 to 35 cm.

The overall plumage of oriental pied hornbill is black and white. The plumage of the head, neck, back, wings and upper breast is black. There is slight greenish sheen on the back. The lower breast, abdomen, thighs, under-wing, undertail and the trailing edge to wings are white.

The tail is black with white tips, except for the central feathers, which are totally black. The orbital skin around the eyes and the throat skin are white. The irises are blackish brown and the feet are gray.

The down-curved bill is large and yellowish, having a black base. The casque is large and pale yellow. The casque has a black patch near the anterior end and in males it may form into a protruding horn. Their call is a distinctive cackling "“kek-kek-kek-kek" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris
Birds of India - Image of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris by Bernard DUPONT

Birds of India - Photo of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris
Indian birds - Picture of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris by SurLaRoute.fr
Indian birds - Image of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris
Birds of India - Photo of Oriental pied hornbill - Anthracoceros albirostris by Johnny Wee.

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The oriental pied hornbill species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

The oriental hornbill subspecies A. a. albirostris is distributed in north India, Nepal, northeast India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and north Peninsular Malaysia.

The oriental pied hornbill subspecies A. a. convexus is distributed in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo Island, Sumatra, Java, Bali and several smaller Indonesian Islands.

In India, these oriental pied hornbills are distributed in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura.

Ecosystem and habitat

These oriental pied hornbill species have moderate forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 700 meters.

These oriental pied hornbill species inhabit artificial ecosystems like agricultural fields and plantations. The natural ecosystem of these hornbill species includes subtropical and tropical dry forests, subtropical and tropical moist lowlands and dry savanna with scattered trees.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these oriental pied hornbill species is mostly wild fruits. Figs, wild fruits, berries, large insects, small birds, lizards, frogs and fish are their primary food. Protein-rich and lipid-rich fruits and small animals are their favorite food during the breeding season.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these oriental pied hornbill species is during February to April in mainland Asia. The breeding season is from September to May in Indonesian and Malaysian islands. These birds are monogamous and territorial. They usually use the same nest site year after year.

The oriental pied hornbill usually nest in cavities in large trees. Trees of the species Bombax ceiba, Careya arborea, Cordia myxa, Lagerstroemia parviflora and Mitragyma parviflora are prefered. The female hornbill after selecting the nesting cavity, cements the tree hollow with her saliva, mud, droppings and fruit pulp.

The typical oriental pied hornbill clutch contains 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 oriental pied hornbill regurgitates the berries one at a time, shifting it to the the tip of the bill, passes it on to the female. The female feeds the nestlings. The chicks remain in the nest for several weeks before fledging. These species may abandon their nesting site when there is human disturbance.

Migration and movement patterns

The oriental pied hornbill is a non-migrant sedentary bird.

Post breeding, the oriental hornbill juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range. In non-breeding season, there may be flock formation and local movement in some populations.

Oriental pied hornbill - Overview

  • Scientific name: Anthracoceros albirostris
  • Species author: (Shaw, 1808)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Buceros albirostris Shaw, 1808
  • Family: Bucerotidae › Bucerotiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Oriental pied hornbill, Chinese: 冠斑犀鸟, French: Calao pie, German: Orienthornvogel, Spanish: Cálao cariblanco, Russian: Индийская птица-носорог, Japanese: キタカササギサイチョウ, Malay: Burung Enggang Belulang
  • Other names: Malaysian Pied Hornbill
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Southeast Asia
  • Diet and feeding habits: fruits, small birds, small reptiles, amphibians, large insects
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) is closely related to Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus) and Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei).
The two recognized subspecies of oriental pied hornbill are: Anthracoceros albirostris albirostris and Anthracoceros albirostris convexus.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be the commonest hornbill. The generation length is 9.2 years. Their distribution size is about 10,700,000 sq.km.

The oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) 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. Loss of forest habitats, capture for pet trade and casque collection as souvenirs 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 ‘Evaluated’ for the oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) and is listed in Appendix II.
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Anthracoceros albirostris
Species:A. albirostris
Binomial name:Anthracoceros albirostris
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oriental_Pied_Hornbill_(Anthracoceros_albirostris)_male_(8070732291).jpg
Image author: Bernard DUPONT | License: CC BY-SA 2.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Calao_(Hornbill),_Pulau_Pangkor.jpg
Image author: SurLaRoute.fr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anthracoceros_albirostris_1.jpg
Image author: Johnny Wee. | License: CC BY 2.0
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