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Bob: Male, hatched on April 16, 2007 at the Houston Zoo. He arrived at the Zoo on November 4, 2008.
Nancy: Female, hatched on June 7, 2007 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. She arrived at the Zoo on November 5, 2008.
McNeil Avian Center
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One of the distinctive characteristics of hornbills is the presence of the “casque”, a structure on top of the bill that is unique to hornbills. All hornbills have some type of casque but few are as impressive as the horn of the rhinoceros hornbill. The casque on this species can take 5 to 6 years to fully develop. The purpose of the casque is not entirely understood but it is thought to play a role in amplifying sound, acting as a resonating chamber. Male and female casques differ in size, color and shape so the structure may play a role in mating behavior as well.
There is very little data on longevity in the wild. Birds in captivity can live into their 30s.
Adult rhinoceros hornbills are typically found in resident, territorial pairs and can often be heard flying through their territories as their wings make a loud whooshing sound when they fly. Many species of hornbill enjoy a good sunbath, and the rhinoceros hornbill is no exception. With their backs facing the sun, they will perch with wings spread out and the tail tilted toward the sun exposing as many feathers to the sun as possible.
Although there are many cavity nesting birds, hornbills are unique in the behavior of the female during nesting. She seals herself into the nest cavity leaving only a narrow slit as an opening. Her mate will use this small opening to deliver food to the female and the chicks. The female remains sealed inside the cavity through incubation of the eggs and brooding of the chicks. This is not an insignificant amount of time, a female can be sealed inside the nest for almost 100 days.
These hornbills stand about 30 to 35 inches tall.
Males weigh more than females, averaging about 6 lbs while females weigh, on average, 5 lbs.
In the wild, rhinoceros hornbills feed mainly on fruit; their favorite fruit are wild figs. At the Zoo, the base diet for the rhino hornbill is a commercial fruit based pellet manufactured specifically for fruit eating birds. The enrichment portion of the diet includes a variety of soft fruit. The birds love grapes. Keepers often use grapes to train the birds.
There are several subspecies of rhinoceros hornbill. One can be found in southern Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. Another subspecies is found in Borneo and a third is restricted to the island of Java.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the rhinoceros hornbill is listed as Near Threatened.
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