Black Hornbill

This species spends much of its time in forest canopies. The black hornbill is a social species and loyal to its mate.

The black hornbill is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and classified as Appendix II in CITES. In Indonesia, the species is protected under Regulation of Minister of Environment and Forestry No. 20 of 2018.

Range & Habitat

The black hornbill’s range extends from Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, to Indonesia in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The species lives in primary forest, lowland forest, riparian forest, tidal swamp forest, and selectively logged secondary forest. The black hornbill lives in the upper and middle forest canopy.


The black hornbill’s body is almost entirely covered in black feathers, including the middle of its tail with white tail tips. Body length reaches 60-65 cm. Male and female birds have different colored eyes and beak. The male’s eyes are red and beak is white, while the female has yellow eyes and black beak.

In addition to their physical characteristics, the black hornbill can be identified through their calls that sound like raspy growls.


The black hornbill usually forage in tree fruits in the mornings and will spend up to an hour in the forest canopy to feed, rest, preen and call from the fruit trees. The species prefers nutmeg (Myristica spp.) and figs (Ficus spp.).

In addition to fruits, the black hornbill also eats small animals including beetles, butterflies or insects.


During breeding season, the black hornbill is an independent pair. The pair needs at least 80 days for breeding: 30 days for incubation and another 50 days to raise their chicks. Breeding seasons in Sumatra vary from Kalimantan. In Sumatra, the species lays eggs on February, April and November. Meanwhile in Kalimantan the black hornbill breeds on January, August and December.

When nesting, the female will become completely dependent on the male to provide food through the slit opening of the nest. Once the chick leaves the nest, both parents will forage in different directions to search for food for its young for the next six months.


Forest loss is the main contributor to black hornbill population decline in the wild. In 2000-2012, approximately 18.1% black hornbill habitat has disappeared. Poaching and capturing birds pose as main threats to black hornbill’s existence in the wild. 

Did You Know?

Black hornbills spend quality time in its group while sunbathing and foliage bathing.