Austen’s Brown hornbill

Anorrhinus austeni

Red List status: NT – Near Threatened, criteria C1 (IUCN 2018)

Distribution: Occurs from north-east India and south China across north Myanmar, north and central Thailand, Laos and west Cambodia to north-west Vietnam. 

Description: Male 73-80 cm, female smaller. Male 710-900 g. Medium-sized hornbill with generally dark brown plumage and rufous underparts, wings and tail tipped white. Male has whitish cheeks and throat and creamy bill and casque. Female has darker brown underparts with dark cheeks and throat; ivory white bill and small casque. Both have blue rings of naked skin around their eyes. Juvenile resembles adult male, except for paler brown tips to feathers; short yellow bill and orange skin around eyes; moults into adult plumage when around a year old. 

Voice: The call is somewhat similar to Bushy-crested Hornbill but less harsh, a loud series of repeated screams, croaks and chuckles. 

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: Found in closed forest, both evergreen and deciduous, from the lowlands to the lower montane forest with pines and oaks, mainly in lower hills. It is recorded to 1,000 m elevation in India, 1,500 m in South-east Asia and 1,800 in Tibet and Yunnan province, China. It is a social bird that lives in vocal and mobile groups of 2-15 birds, up to 50 in one group have been reported. It moves through the forest at canopy level and feeds actively inside or just below the canopy. The food is mainly fruits, 41 different varieties have been identified at Khao Yai NP. During a breeding survey in Thailand, recorded food by weight was 22% figs, 38% other fruits and 40% animals. It consumes animal prey as many as 41 species. Prey included many arthropods, but also snails, earthworms and such vertebrate prey as bats, snakes, lizards and bird chicks and eggs. Sedentary and territorial, the mean home range of a breeding group is only 4.3-5.9 km²; there are no reports of movements apart from immatures dispersing. In the non-breeding season a number of up to 80 birds can be seen roosting together in Khao Yai NP.