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Hornbills - Fauna of India (Birds) 1895 - Birding in India


Fauna of India (Birds)  vol iii 1895 - by W. T. Blanford

Page 46
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LOPHOCEROS, Hemp. & Ehr., 1828

Size small. Casque either small, compressed, and terminating anteriorly in a point or entirely wanting. Bill much curved, carinate above. Tail graduated in all Indian species. Crest moderate. Plumage of Indian birds chiefly grey.

I refer to this African type (which is identical with Tockus of Lesson) the three small Hornbills of India and Ceylon. By Jerdon, Hume, and others they have been divided into two genera; by Ogilvie Grant they have been united and placed in a genus apart from their African relatives on account of their more wedge-shaped tail. This distinction I find does not hold good; neither Indian nor African forms are all alike in the relative lengths of the rectrices. I do not place the Indian L. birostris in a separate genus from the other two species, because the type of Lophoceros, the Abyssinian L. nasutus, closely allied to the Indian forms but without a casque, is only distinguished from the S. African L. epirhinus by the presence in the latter of a small casque, precisely like that of L. birostris, but smaller. it is clear that in this group of small Hornbills the presence or absence of a small casque is not a generic character.

The genus Lophoceros comprises 17 African species; two occur in the peninsula of India and one in Ceylon. None extend farther east.

Key to the Species
a. A small casque, pointed in front .... L. birostris
b. No casque.
  a. Nostrils in an elongate groove .... L. griseus
  b'. Nostrils round, not in a groove .... L. qingalensis


Lophoceros birostris, Common Grey Hornbill

Buceros birostris, Scop. Del. Flor. et Faun. Insub. ii, p. 87 (1786); Blyth, J.A.S.B. xvi, p. 995; id. Cat. p. 44
Buceros ginginianus, Latham, Ind. Orn. i, p. 146 (1790); Blyth, J.A.S.B. xii, p. 996
Tockus bicornis, Horsf. M. cat. ii, p. 597 (1856-8)
Meniceros bicornis, Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 248; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 350; King J.A.S.B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 214; Horne, P.Z.S. 1869, p. 241; C. & G. Marshall, S.F. iii, p. 331; Butler, S.F. iii, p. 457; v, p. 218
Ocyceros ginginianus, Hume, N.E. p. 113; Ball, S.F. ii, p. 388
Ocyceros bicornis, Fairbank, S.F. v, p. 394
Lophoceros birostris, Elliot, Mon. Buc. pl. 48
Ocyceros birostris, Davids. & Wend. S.F. vii, p. 78; Ball, Ibid. p. 205; Hume, Cat. no. 144; Butler, S.F. ix, p. 384; Reid, S.F. x, p. 22; Davids. Ibid. p. 296; Barnes, Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. i, p. 61; id. Birds Bom. p. 106; Oates In Humes N. E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 74; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B.M. xvii, p. 394


Names: Chakotra, Dhanmar, Dhand, Dhanel, Lamdar, (Hindi); Selagilli, (Hindi) at Saugor; Puttial dhanes, (Bengali); Rundu-mukala-guwa, (Telgu).; Munu mukala-kaka, Irawache, (Tamil)

Grey Hornbill
Fig. 45 - head of L. birostris 1/3

Coloration: Upper parts light brownish grey, broad supercilia whitish; ear-coverts and cheeks blackish grey; primary and secondary quills blackish brown, all except the first two primaries tipped with white, the secondaries fringed with grey outside, the middle primaries with part of the outer web white, halfway down at first, bat gradually nearer the tip on the inner feathers; tail above browner than back, each feather with a broad subterminal black or blackish-brown band glossed with green and a white tip; below from the chin to the breast grey, then passing into the white of the abdomen. The white tips of the primaries are wanting in immature birds.
Bill and casque blackish, the tips and outer edges of both mandibles (not of the casque) white; irides red-brown; feet dark plumbeous. In young birds most of the bill is white.

Size: Length of male about 24; wing 8.7; tail 11.5; tarsus 1.9; bill from gape 4. Females are smaller, wing 7.9

Distribution: From the base of the Himalayas throughout the better wooded parts of the Peninsula of India, except on the Malabar coast; wanting in Sind, Western Rajputana (except at Mount Abu), and the Punjab; rare in the Gangetic delta in Lower Bengal and not found farther east. This specie does not occur in Ceylon.

Habits: This little hornbill is generally seen in small parties about open jungle, groves of trees, and gardens, but not in thick forest. It lives chiefly on fruit, but occasionally eats insects also. It has a harsh cry, and an undulating flight, with alternate flappings and sailings. An excellent account of the nidification at Mainpuri is given by Mr. Home, who watched the female bird shut up, with her own droppings, the opening of the nest-hole in a sissoo tree, except the slit through which she received food from the male. The female never leaves the nest from before laying her first egg till the young are about a week old. The eggs, 3 to 5 in number, are laid from April to June; they are dull white in colour and measure about 1 by 1


Lophoceros griseus, Malabar Grey Hornbill

Buceros griseus, Lath. md. Orn. i, p. 147 (1790).
Tockus gingalensis, apud Jerdon, Mad. Jour. I. S. xi, p. 38; id. B. I. i, p. 250; id. Ibis, 1872, p. 5; nec Baceros gingalensis, S/
Buceros gingalensis, Baker, J. A. S. B. xxviii, p. 292; nec Slzaw.
Tockus griseus, lilyth, Ibis, 186$, p. 350; Fairbank, S. Il iv, p. 255; v, p. 395; Burne Bourd. S.F. iv, p. 387; Hume, Cat. no. 145; Elliot, Mon. 13cc. p1. 54; Vidal, S.F. ix, p. 51; Butler, ibid. p. 384; Davison, S.F. x, p. 852; Macgregor, ibid. p. 436; Barnes, Birds Born. p. 106; Davidson, Jour. Born. 1V H. Soc. vi, p. 334.
Ocyceros griseus, Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B. M. xvii, p. 396.

Names: Jungle Grey Hornbill, Jerdon; Kaldal.haki, Can.

Coloration: Upper parts dark slaty grey, brownish on the back; nasal plumes and broad supercilia, extending far backwards, brownish white; ear-coverts blackish; feathers of head, crest, throat, and breast with whitish shaft-stripes; quills black, primaries, from 3rd to 7th, 8th, or sometimes 9th, with broad white tips; tail-feathers black glossed with green, the three outer pairs white for some distance from the tips; lower parts ashy grey, paler on the chin and on the abdomen; vent and lower tail-coverts rufous.
Both mandibles arc thickened at the side by a kind of incrustation towards the base; nostrils elongate, in a groove, the posterior portion of which is covered by membrane and overhung by a tuft of feathers.
Bill horny yellow, with a brownish-red tinge except towards the tip, dusky or black along the commissure; irides red-brown; orbital skin black; legs and feet greenish. In the female the bill is paler and has black patches on the top of the culmen and at each side of the lower mandible, near the base in both cases. Young birds have dull white or yellow irides,

Size: Length about 24; tail 9; wing 8 tarsus 175; bill from gape 425. Females measure rather less.

Distribution: Forests along the Malabar coast, as far north as the neighbourhood of Bombay. This Hornbill does not ascend the hills of Southern India above about 3000 feet. Too/cue gingalensis is included in Dr. Kings list of Goona birds, but doubtless by mistake.

Habits: A forest species, shy, usually keeping in small flocks, living on fruit, and having a peculiar call. The flight, according to Bourdillon, is more rapid and easy than that of L. birostris. Mr. Baker found 3 eggs in a nest that he took; Mr. Davidson, in Kanara, 2 or 3. The latter found several nests in February and the beginning of March. The breeding-habits are similar to those of L. birostris.


Lophoceros gingalensis Ceylonese Hornbill

Buceros gingalensis, Shaw, Gen. Zool. viii, p. 87 (1811); Blyth, J.A.S.B. xii, p. 998; xvi, p. 996; id. Cat. p. 44; Layard, A. M. .1V. H. (2) xiii, p. 260
Tockus gingalensis, Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 850; 1867, p. 296; Holdsworth P.Z.S. 1872, p. 425; Legge Ibis, 1874, p. 14; 1875, p. 282; id. Birds Ceyl. p. 275. p1. xiv; Elliot, Mon. Buc. p1. 55; Hume, S.F. vii, p. 366; id. Cat. no. 145 his.
Ocyceros gingalensis, Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B.M. xvii, p. 397

Names: Kaendetta (Cingalese)

Coloration: Crown and nape greyish brown, the feathers with pale shaft-stripes; an indistinct pale superciliary baud extending over the ear-coverts, which are blackish; upper parts dark ashy grey, browner on the hind neck; wing-coverts dark-edged; quills black; outer webs of secondaries grey above, the five middle primaries, beginning with the third, with long white tips; tail- feathers blackish brown, the middle pair throughout, the others with long white terminations, the three outer pairs become entirely white in old birds; lower parts white, greyish in the young; vent and lower tail-feathers pale rufous.
Nostril round, free from feathers. Bill in males yellowish white, with a black patch on each side of the base of the upper mandible, and another beneath the lower mandible; in females the bill is black, with a long white patch on the lower half of the upper mandible; irides red; orbital skin black; legs and feet greenish plumbeous

Size: Length about 23; tail 8.75; wing 8; tarsus 1.75; bill from gape 4.25. Females are smaller, the wing measuring 8.25, and the bill 3.4

Distribution: Throughout Ceylon, in forest up to an elevation of 4000 feet.

Habits: Similar to those of the last species, but the flight as observed by Legge appears to resemble that of L. birostris, This Hornbill lives mainly on fruit, but occasionally eats lizards, scorpions, and insects.

Genus RHINOPLAX, Gloger, 1842.

Bill moderate, pointed, nearly straight. Casque high, fiat at sides, rounded above, vertically truncated in front, all the front part solid. Whole chin and throat, neck all round, and middle of back naked. Middle tail-feathers in the male twice as long as the others. Sexes alike in plumage. This very remarkable and aberrant genus contains a single species only.


Rhinoplax vigil, Helmeted Hornbill

Buceros vigil, Forster, md. Zool. p. 40 (1781)
Buceros scutata, Bodd. Tabi. Fl. Eni. p. 55 (1783)
Buceros galeatus, Gin. Syst. Nat. i, p. 360 (1788); Blyth, J.A.S.B. xvi, p. 998; id. Cat. p. 45
Rhinoplax scutatus, Horsf M. Cat. ii, p. 581; Hume, S.F. iii, p. 318
Rhinoplax vigil, Elliot, Mon. Buc. pl. 10; Hume & Dav. S.F. vi, p. 115; Hume, Cat. no. 146 quint; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 89; Hartert, Jf. Otis. 1889, p. 366; Ogilvie Grant, Cat. B.M. xvii, p. 427.

Coloration: Forehead, crown, and nape black; feathers behind eyes and ear-coverts chestnut; breast, sides of back, and outside of wings black; scapulars, tertiaries, and rump browner; abdomen, upper and lower tail-coverts, and under wing-coverts white; base and tips of all quills, except the first primary and the last secondaries, white; long middle pair of tail-feathers whity brown, the others white, all with a broad subterminal black band.
Anterior half of bill and front of casque yellow, rest of casque and posterior half of bill crimson; iris dark red; bare skin of neck and back, legs and feet, and skin everywhere beneath feathers dull deep red in male, in the female the naked back and hind-neck are reddish lilac, sides and front of neck greenish blue, veined with sky-blue (Hartert).

Size: Length of male about 5 feet; tail 34 inches; wing 19; tarsus 3; bill from gape 6S. Female: length about 50; tail 26; wing 16S; bill 575.

Distribution: Malay Peninsula, extending into the extreme south of Tenasserim; also Sumatra and Borneo.

Habits: A very shy bird, inhabiting high forest generally in pairs, not descending to the ground, and living on fruit. The flight is weak, The note is very peculiar and powerful; it begins with a series of whoops, uttered at intervals that grow gradually less till, after ten or a dozen quick repetitions, the call ends in a harsh cackling laugh. This account is taken from Davison, whose observations are confirmed by Hartert. Nothing is known of the nidification, nor of the use to which the bird puts its very singular, straight, pointed bill and heavy casque.

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