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Bucerotidae – Hornbills

Rhinoceros Hornbill in Malaysia: Photo by Neoh Hor Kee

Bucerotidae, or hornbills, are a distinctive family of birds found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia. Known for their large, curved bills topped with casques, hornbills are omnivorous and play important roles in forest ecosystems as seed dispersers and predators of small animals. They are often found in dense forests, where they nest in tree cavities and exhibit complex social behaviors. Hornbills are also known for their unique nesting habits, with females sealing themselves inside the nest cavity during incubation, leaving only a small slit for the male to pass food through.

Overview of Bucerotidae

With a general resemblance to toucans, hornbills exhibit a remarkable diversity in the size and intricacy of their bills. They inhabit a wide range of habitats across the Old World, from the arid savannas and scrublands of Africa to the lush rainforests of Asia. One of their most distinctive traits is their nesting behavior, where females seal themselves inside the nest cavity for incubation and chick-rearing, emerging only after the chicks are ready to fledge. This unique nesting strategy heavily relies on male support, contributing to the rarity of extra-pair mating among hornbills.