GREAT HORNBILL or GREATER INDIAN HORNBILL ©Kalyanvarma
I was fortunate to spend a couple of weeks in the Thai rainforest observing Hornbills for Pilai Poonswad’s Hornbill Project - amazing experience!
Location: Western edge of India, Southeast Asia
Status: Near Threatened
Great Hornbills find a nesting tree, lures in a mate. After mating, the female is walled into the nest (using mostly feces) leaving only a narrow slit through which the male feeds her. The male spends a great deal of his day bringing her food (as do solo males with no mate). Later he brings food for the young as well.
When the young are old enough to survive without her, the female breaks out of the nest and walls back in the young. The male continues to bring everyone food. When the young are old enough to learn to fly - the next is broken open again.
The most prominent feature of the hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque on top of its massive bill. No known purpose for the casque although they are believed to be the result of sexual selection
The Great Hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity, but do not breed well and are nearly always female — since the female not only moults while walled in the tree, but her wings begin to atrophy and she cannot fly.