White-crowned Hornbill

Berenicornis comatus

Red List Status: EN – Endangered, criteria A3cd+4cd (IUCN 2018)

Distribution: Sunda subregion; south Myanmar, south Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo plus Sumatra, Indonesia; formerly recorded from central Annam (Vietnam). 

Description: 80-100 cm. Young male 1250-1360 g; female 1470 g. Large hornbill with white spiky crest and white graduated tail, wings with white trailing edge. Male has white neck and underparts, blue bare skin around the eye and throat; black bill has a small casque. The female is smaller with all-black body except for the white crest. Juveniles of both sexes have white underparts, head and neck, similar to adult male, but with grey streaks on head and breast and dull greenish yellow bill, proximal half of tail is black and the rest white. 

Voice: The call is a characteristic series of mellow double and triple cooing notes, falling in pitch: ho-ho ho-hoo-hoo

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: The White-crowned Hornbill is found in large expanses of primary rainforest; extends into adjacent closed secondary forest and riverine areas, also recorded in nearby cultivation. Mainly in the lowlands, up to 900 m elevation, recorded to 1,680 m. It is a shy and unobtrusive bird that stays hidden inside the canopy of large trees. It rarely flies high above the forest; instead it flips from tree to tree on short flights at canopy level. The diet has a large proportion of animal food; it actively hunts in the trees, probing the bark and vines for prey and even drops down to the ground regularly. The prey is insects, snakes, lizards and small bird’s chicks and eggs, mice. It also takes fruits, mainly lipid-rich drupes and capsules, also some figs. In southern Thailand fruit food, other than figs, includes Oncosperma horridum (Arecaceae), Litsea spp (Lauraceae), Aglaia spectabilis, Chisocheton ceramicus (Meliaceae), Horsfieldia tomentosa and Myristica elliptica (Myristicaceae) and Sterculia sp (Sterculiaceae). It is apparently sedentary and territorial, but somewhat social with cooperative activities reported during breeding. Surveys found that the home range is small, only some 1-10 km².