Knobbed Hornbill

Rhyticeros cassidix

Red List Status: VU – Vulnerable, A4cd (IUCN 2018)

Distribution: Endemic to Indonesia. Occurs on Sulawesi and the nearby islands of Lembeh, Togian, Muna and Butung. 

Description: 70-80 cm. Male 2360-2500 g. It is the only large hornbill within its range. Black with white tail, orange-yellow bill and high casque; pouch and facial skin blue with darker line on pouch in both sexes. Male has brownish head with darker crown and large red casque; female is smaller with black head; casque is yellow. Juveniles of both sexes like adult male in plumage except for smaller plain yellow casqueless bill; the casque starts to develop at about 10 months of age, when females begin moult into black body plumage. 

Voice: The call is a single gruff bark, grrok, repeated 2-3 times.

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: Well studied. Occurs in lowland rainforest from the coast up to the hills, mainly below 1,100 m elevation, recorded up to 1,800 m. Nests in primary forest, ventures into secondary forest, woodlands and nearby plantations to feed. Food is mainly fruits; during breeding season a great variety of fruits (52 species) are taken, 60-82% figs (Moraceae: 19 species) followed by Polyalthia (Annonaceae: 4 species) and Syzygium (Myrtaceae: 3 species), but only about 1% of diet is animal food such as insects, bird eggs and nestlings. During non-breeding, 35 different varieties were used, including 17 species of figs providing 85% of diet. It feeds mainly in the canopy of large trees, is especially fond of large red figs and will chase off other birds and primates at feeding sites. Wanders far during the non-breeding season in search of fruiting trees, flocks numbering up to 50 individuals can cover an area of 30-60 km² daily. Kinnaird & O’Brien (2007) reported a home range of 42 km² during non-breeding and 8 km² during breeding periods.