Malabar Pied Hornbill

Anthracoceros coronatus

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

Photo by Chien C. Lee

Distribution: Found in the Western Ghats and north-eastern Himalayan foothill regions of India and Nepal, linked via the Satpuda Hills, as well as in Sri Lanka. 

Description: 65-92 cm. Female 1000 g. Medium-sized hornbill; black with white underparts, white outer tail feathers and trailing edge to wings visible in flight. Male has a large creamy white bill with black base and a huge ivory yellow and black casque with a projecting front end; the red eye is surrounded by black bare skin. From the Oriental Pied Hornbill where they overlap by bigger size and larger head and casque. The female’s bill and casque is smaller than male’s (but still bigger than Oriental Pied Hornbill); the bare skin around the eye is pale blue becoming pink when breeding. Juvenile has a smaller, casqueless, plain dull-yellow bill. 

Voice: The call is like Oriental Pied Hornbill but deeper and more monotonous; also loud whistles upon arrival at roost. A rapid series of pips that sometimes escalate into a series of squawks.

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: Occurs on margins of rainforest and in deciduous woodlands; extends into more open patches of forest and will visit isolated fruiting trees to feed from the lowlands up to 300 m elevation. There it feeds mainly on fruits; in the Western Ghats one fig species (57%) and a Putranjiva (Euphobiaceae) are the main source when breeding, but 17 fruit varieties have been identified with the fig (36%) and a Strychnos (Loganiaceae) (20%) in the non-breeding season. Also eats some leaves and small animal prey such as insects and lizards that it captures on an opportunistic basis. Feeds inside the canopies of trees but can also drop to the ground to pick up fallen fruits or animal prey. Mainly sedentary but will make local movements in search of fruiting trees; it will gather in small flocks at good feeding sites or at evening roosts, and as many as 58 birds have been recorded at one site.