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Rhinoceros Hornbill

Buceros rhinoceros

Rhinohornbill Gallery

About the Rhinoceros Hornbill

conservation status: near threatened

Class: Aves
Order: Bucerotiformes
Family: Buceritodae
Genus: Buceros
Species: rhinioceros

Hornbills have what appears to be a second beak, or “horn,” growing out of their forehead, hence the name “hornbill.” This horn is actually a casque—a hollow structure made of keratin. It's believed that the purpose of the casque is to act like a megaphone and amplify the male hornbill's mating call.

Committed to Conservation

Species Survival Plan

Zoo New England participates in the rhinoceros hornbill Species Survival Plan. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of endangered species.


We're proud to support the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' SAFE initiative: A commitment to harness our collective resources, focus on specific endangered species, and save them from extinction by restoring healthy populations in the wild. The Asian Hornbill SAFE Program’s goal is to support the sustainability of wild Asian hornbills in viable, ecologically functional populations within their natural ranges. Conservation actions supported by AZA partners include developing conservation action plans, nest site protection, local community-based forest warden programs, habitat protection and enhancement, biodiversity assessments of natural areas, species population surveys and population viability assessments, provision of artificial nests, anti-poaching and demand reduction programs.

Rhinoceros Hornbill Facts


Rhinoceros hornbills can weigh upwards of 6 pounds and measure almost 3 feet long. They have black feathers on their bodies and white feathers on their legs. Their tails are white with a black band. Both the beak and casque are orange and red in color. 


Hornbills eat mostly fruits, but will occasionally eat insects and small animals.


The female hornbills lays her eggs in a hollow tree cavity, and with help from the male, seals herself and her eggs inside with a paste made of fruit, mud and feces. Only a small slit is left open so that the male can pass food to the female (and later, the chicks) for four to five months. The female breaks herself out when the chicks are old enough, but the male and female seal the chicks back up again for several more months until the chicks are old and strong enough to break out of the nest on their own. 


Rhinoceros hornbills spend most of their time high up in the canopy of tropical forests. Their large wingspans and long tail feathers allow them to gracefully fly from one branch to another. Hornbills typically mate for life.


Hornbills live in large trees in tropical rainforests in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Sumatra, and Malaysia.

Median Life Expectancy:

35 years

Fun Fact:

The rhinoceros hornbill is the national bird of Malaysia.