Noisy Hornbills

Hornbills are birds found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They have a long, down-curved bill which is brightly coloured and sometimes has a casque on top of the head.

Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek.

They are the only birds in which the first and second neck vertebrae (the atlas and axis respectively) are fused together. This probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill.

Hornbills are omnivorous birds, eating fruit, insects and small animals. They cannot swallow food caught at the tip of the beak as their tongue is too short to manipulate it. So they toss food back to the throat with a jerk of the head, as you can clearly see in the video clip.

Hornbills generally form monogamous pairs, although some species engage in cooperative breeding. The female lays up to six white eggs in existing holes or crevices, either in trees or rocks.

Hornbills living in Southeast Asia are threatened with extinction.