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Hornbills: Bucerotidae

Physical Characteristics

Hornbills are medium- to large-sized, stocky, and highly vocal birds that are described as flamboyant, very showy. They have long, oversized but lightweight, slightly decurved (down-curved) bills. The bills are located below noticeable casques (KASKS), horny growths. The casques come in various sizes; shapes, including bumps, ridges, or horns; and colors such as brilliant orange, yellow-gold, deep crimson, or shiny black. Experts think casques might be used to help support large bills, make calls louder, or attract mates.

Hornbills have patches of bare skin around the eyes and throat and long eyelashes on their upper lids. To support their head and large bill, they have strong neck muscles and two neck vertebrae, bones in the spinal column, connected together. Hornbill plumage, feathers, is not very colorful, usually with areas of black, white, gray, or brown. The color and size of plumage and the shape of the casque identifies the age and sex. Hornbills vary in size and shape, from 11.8 to 47.3 inches (30 to 120 centimeters) long, and weigh between 3.5 ounces and 13.25 pounds (100 grams and 6 kilograms). Males are larger and heavier than females and have bills that are up to 30 percent longer.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsHornbills: Bucerotidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Southern Ground-hornbill (bucorvus Leadbeateri): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, HORNBILLS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS