Hornbills are well-known for their nesting behaviour. After courtship and mating, the female seeks out a tree hollow and seals herself within with dung and mud pellets. The male collects pellets from the forest floor, consumes them, and then regurgitates little saliva-covered building materials later. He then passes them to the female, who stays within the nest, leaving a slit large enough for food and supplies to pass through. The male feeds the female through this hole for the next 6–8 weeks. She does not come out until she has moulted and grown new feathers, as well as hatched her young.



The hornbill has the most interesting profile among the feathered siblings, with a long, curved bill and a brilliant upturned casque on their heads. It is not just the symbol of the Malaysian Democratic Action Party, but also a significant symbol for East Malaysian tribes.

Hornbill with an open beak sitting on a rope
On a rope, a hornbill with an open beak.

Facts about the Hornbill

  • The neck muscles of hornbills are amazing

Hornbills have powerful muscles and fused vertebrae in their necks to maintain their big bills, which is a rare characteristic among birds. Their necks are thicker than the average birds because of this. Hornbills are the only birds with eyelashes, which makes them stand out.

  • Hornbills stay as a family

Hornbill chicks are kept close to their parents. Their flocks range in size from a small family group consisting of the parents and their chicks to a huge group consisting of hundreds of individual hornbills. What a great example of cooperation!

  • Monkeys and hornbills can be friends

They eat monkey-annoying insects and can learn to recognize the warning noises monkeys make when they see humans.

  • Food is given as an engagement present by male hornbills

Male hornbills demonstrate their worth as mates by bringing food to the female over a month. Their costumes are helped by their brilliant casque. Male hornbills impress peahens with their casque, just as peacocks do with their colorful plumage.

A brown tree with a black and yellow hornbill
Black and yellow hornbill on a brown tree
  • Hornbill females barricade themselves in their nests

Hornbills build their nests in the cavities of hollow trees. The female covers the hole in the wall with clay and faeces, leaving just a small opening through which she can collect food from her lover. This barrier keeps predators away from her and her young.

  • During the breeding season, male hornbills work even harder

The male hornbill is the only food source for his partner and young throughout the nesting season. He regurgitates the food and can regurgitate up to 60 fruits in one sitting.

  • Hornbills have a Morse code of their own

The male hornbill communicates with the female by beating his wings against the nest during her confinement. Because of the structure of their plumage, the noise is reported to sound like a steam engine.

  • Hornbills have crampons integrated into their bodies

The magnificent bills of hornbills can serve as climbing aids. They utilize it to climb trees in the same way that parrots do. Hornbills’ bills can also be used as a trowel. Female hornbills use their huge bills to secure their nest.

Black and yellow hornbill sitting on a branch
On a branch, a black and yellow hornbill is perched.
  • The Dayak tribe’s hornbills are vital emblems

The Dayak tribe of Borneo considers hornbills to be symbols of God’s spirit. A hornbill flying over a house was considered an omen of impending good fortune. Hornbills are so incorporated into several areas of their culture, including art, ceremonial costumes, and dances.

  • Not all bills are created equal

Smaller species’ bills are comprised of spongy tissue, but larger species’ bills are constructed of ivory-like bone. Bone banknotes are highly regarded ritual objects in various civilizations.

  • Sarawak is home to eight different hornbill species

There are 54 species of hornbill in the world, and Sarawak is home to eight of them.  Because of this, Sarawak is known as the “Land of the Hornbills.” The black hornbill (black plumage with the pale yellow or black bill), the oriental-pied hornbill (black-and-white plumage with a bright yellow bill), and the rhinoceros hornbill (black plumage with a bright yellow bill) are all examples of hornbills (black-and-white plumage with red-orange casque), and the wreathed hornbill (black-and-white plumage with a red-orange casque) are the four most prominent species (pouch at the lower throat).



Hornbills teach us a lot about how to live a good life with others. They set a good example for us to follow. The Hornbill is a fantastic example of nature that helps an individual comprehend basic human instincts, from remaining together as a family to maintaining secrets. We, humans, are meant to know what our actions do when they aren’t done correctly.

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