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10 Most Wanted Birds in Thailand
Number 3: Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

Great Hornbill
(Photo by Peter Ericsson)

That Great Hornbill features so highly on this list is testament to how easily us birdwatchers are seduced by big, colourful birds. Anyone who has witnessed a Great Hornbill uttering its "Gok, Gok" call across a forested valley, or heard the load "whoosh" of its wings in flight will attest to the fact that this is a most exciting species indeed.

Khao Yai is a great place to observe this species, where it is a fairly common bird and there can be few better memories of a trip to this wonderful national park than a sighting of a Great Hornbill foraging in a fruiting tree or flying across a valley. There are also frequent sightings from Kaeng Krachan, Khao Sok, Hala-Bala and Thalebun.

The near threatened status of this species reflects the pressures that habitat loss and hunting has had upon it, and in many parts of Thailand the sound or sight of a Great Hornbill is very rare indeed. In Thailand, Great Hornbill has suffered most in the north, vanishing from areas in which it was formerly common.

The predictability of the Great Hornbill's habit of visiting large trees for both feeding and breeding, and its large size, make it an easy target for hunters, with casques valued as trophies. Great Hornbill abundance tends to be proportional to the density of large trees, making it particularly vulnerable to logging activities. This association makes Great Hornbill a good indicator of unlogged, mature forest.

Observing the behaviour of Great Hornbills can be a very rewarding pastime; they are able to feed with remarkable dexterity, using the tips of their bills to pick the smallest of fruits from trees; their famous nesting activities whereby the female is sealed within a nest cavity is seen by only a lucky few, and who would forget it if they were lucky enough to observe Great Hornbills engaged in rarely seen aerial casque butting.

Great Hornbill
(Photo by Peter Ericsson)
Top Ten Most Wanted Birds of Thailand: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Post your own most wanted top ten birds of Thailand here.

Other Related Pages: Khao Yai , Kaeng Krachan , Khao Sok

Aerial casque-butting in the Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis by T. R. Shankar Raman 

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More Information on Great Hornbill:

Red Data Book, Threatened Birds of Asia: Great Hornbill

More photos of Great Hornbill:

Oriental Bird Images: Great Hornbill

More information on Hornbills in Thailand:

Hornbill Research Foundation


Male Great Hornbill feeding female in nest cavity - Khao Yai National Park


Hornbills: Masters of Tropical Forests: A Photographic Life History of Hornbills from Over 15 Years of Experience in Hornbill Research at Khao Yai National Park, Thailand newsletter -
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