The Helmeted Hornbill is considered one of the rarest and most beautiful birds in the world because of its peculiar appearance.
Its scientific name is Rhinoplax Vigil commonly known as “Buceros Vigil”.
This rare bird belongs to the Bucerotidae family, and is the only member of its species.
Main characteristics of Helmeted Hornbill
The Helmeted hornbill is a large bird measuring up to 1.2 metres from head to tail and with a wingspan of more than 1.8 metres.
Males are slightly larger and heavier than females, as they can weigh up to 3.1 kilograms compared to the female who only weighs up to 2.7 kilograms.
Most of the plumage of a Helmeted hornbill is black, but this is not true of the whole body as its ventral area, tail and legs are white.
On its tail it has long feathers measuring about 50 centimetres.
This rare animal is also characterized by having an area around its throat and neck that is devoid of feathers, is wrinkled and is red in males and blue in females.
Therefore, looking at that area helps to easily identify the sex of the animal.
If there’s something about this strange animal, it’s that the front of its head is more pronounced than in other birds.
On it you can clearly see a red bump, made of keratin, which is called a helmet and is of course the reason for its common name.
Males use their hoofs in the mating season to fight each other and to mark territory.
The Helmeted hornbill is not only rare, but it is also a very cautious and intelligent animal, so there is more chance of hearing it than seeing it.
On the other hand, they are sedentary creatures but can hunt at any time of day.
It is rare to see a Hoofed hornbill alone as they are used to being in pairs or families and defending themselves.
Habitat and Distribution
This rare animal lives in savannahs, forests and grasslands. Geographically it can be found in Asia, particularly in Indonesia (it is the typical bird of Western Borneo), Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar and Thailand.
What the Helmeted Hornbill eats?
As an omnivorous species, the diet of Helmeted Hornbill is varied.
It is mainly composed of fruits, including figs and nuts, but also consumes insects and other small animals.
To get their food, specimens of both sexes use the helmet they have on the front of their head, to dig in decomposing trunks.
How Helmeted Hornbill reproduces?
Like many other birds, the hoofed hornbill is a monogamous species, choosing a partner for life and defending and protecting it in a surprising way.
Its breeding season begins between the months of March and April. At this time, the males enter the fight using their prominent hoof to be chosen by the female.
When the male is selected, the couple mates very close to the nest they have built in some large tree.
The female lays one or two eggs in the nest and after incubation these will hatch. Although it is likely that only the first to hatch will survive.
For about 100 days the female and the young will stay in the nest, while the male will protect them and provide them with food.
As a way of scaring off predators, the mother will build around the nest a kind of barrier made of faeces and rotten food.
The young remains with its mother for a full year until it is ready to leave the nest and start living independently.
What are its Predators?
As is the case with other rare animals, the main predator for the Hornbill is man, who hunts it indiscriminately and destroys its natural habitat.
This bird is sought after because it is the only one with a solid hoof that is used to make sculptures and even jewelry. Also, its beak is used for decorative purposes.
Because of all this, this rare animal is currently classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a critically endangered species.