Almost everyone knows about rhinos and elephants being killed for ivory, but very few people have heard of this bird which is nearly extinct for the same reason. Please join me in learning about and helping the helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil), a critically endangered species of birds in Southeast Asia. 25% of the proceeds from the sale of the helmeted hornbill art on this website will go to Rangkong Indonesia. This non-profit organization uses donations to conserve, protect, and increase awareness on hornbills, especially the helmeted hornbill, and their forest homes.
10 helmeted hornbill facts:
1. Helmeted hornbills are big birds that can weigh 3 kg (6.6 lbs) with tail feathers 50 cm (20 inches) long.
2. The helmet-like structure on the beak is called the casque. In this species, the casque is solid, not hollow. The casque, beak, and skull make up 10% of thebird’s body weight.
3. Helmeted hornbills are critically endangered because of poaching/illegal trading of their casques for carving (“red ivory”) and habitat loss from logging and palm tree planting.
4. Male helmeted hornbills use their casques for head-to-head fighting over territory.
5. Helmeted hornbills have sexual dimorphism: the male’s throat patch is red while the female’s is greenish blue.
6. Helmeted hornbills are found in the tropical forests of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Myanmar (Southeast Asia).
7. Helmeted hornbills are “forest farmers”; they spread seeds in their droppings that grow into trees. These trees feed a myriad of animals and humans and prevent climate change by sequestering carbon.
8. The iconic call of the hornbill sounds like a series of hoots followed by a cackling laugh.
9. The helmeted hornbill’s feathers are used in traditional dance ceremonies, another reason why this critically endangered bird is being poached.
10. Pairs of helmeted hornbills build nests in hollow trees. When the female hornbill begins incubating her eggs, the male uses mud to seal the nest hole entrance and feeds her through a small opening by regurgitating food from his throat pouch.