White-crowned hornbill

The only hornbill species with a tufted crown. In the wild, the species lives in small groups of 3-8 individuals to large groups of up to 20 birds.

The white-crowned hornbill is protected under Regulation of Minister of Environment and Forestry No. 20 of 2018. It is also classified as Endangered (EN) in IUCN Red List and is an Appendix II species in CITES.

Range & Habitat

The white-crowned hornbill inhabits the forest of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, India and Indonesia, specifically in Sumatra and Kalimantan. They live in small to large groups, often found in primary forest, lowland forest, oil palm plantation and cocoa plantation. One group’s territory may span over an area of 10 km2.


The tell-tale characteristic of white-crowned hornbills is the erect white tuft feathers on its crown, found on both male and female. Body length 75-80 cm. Back black, wings black with white tips. Legs black and beak gray.

Male and female hornbill can be distinguished based on their throat colors. The female’s throat is black while the male has white throat. When threatened, they will lift their wings and tail feathers and bob their beak up and down.


If they come across a fruiting tree, white-crowned hornbills may gather in a group of up to 20 birds. White-crowned hornbills prefer lipid-rich fruits like nutmeg (Myristica sp.), and sometimes cocoa. Animal food include lizards, snakes, larvae and insects.


In the breeding season, white-crowned hornbills are assisted by 1-3 other birds. These “guards” will protect their territory with their calls and fend off against any signs of threats. In Kalimantan, these hornbills lay their eggs in December-January. In one breeding period a pair usually successfully raise one chick only.


Habitat degradation is the primary threat causing the decline of white-crowned hornbill populations in the wild. The species is an alternative target of poachers if they fail to catch their main target.

Did You Know?

Because of their unique calls, the Dayak Iban indigenous people call the white-crowned hornbills “sentuku”.