Family BUCEROTIDAE

An enormous bill, generally curved, and furnished in most genera with a casque upon the basal portion of the culmen; this casque varies in shape, and is generally hollow or cellular, but the anterior part is solid in Rhinoplax. Primaries 11. Tail-feathers 10. The under wing-coverts as a rule do not cover the basal part of the quills, and this may, as Mr. Ogilvie Grant has suggested, account for the extraordinary noise made by some of the larger forms when flying, the sound being produced by the air rushing between the quills. The eyelids are furnished with strong eye- lashes. The sexes are as a rule alike in plumage, but often differ in size, in the form of the casque, and in the Coloration of the soft parts.

The Hornbills are a very well-marked family found nearly throughout the Ethiopian and Oriental regions and occurring also in the Papuan subregion. They are especially remarkable for their nidification, the account of which was long regarded as a fable, but has now been confirmed by numerous observers. A hole in a tree is selected, and then the female, usually with the aid of the male, encloses herself and shuts up the orifice with the exception of a narrow vertical slit, by means of earth mixed with the birds' own droppings. In some cases, as Aceros nepalensis and Lophoceros birostris, the droppings alone are used, and the process of enclosure is then performed by the female from within the nest. She is thus enclosed before she begins to lay, and apparently remains in the hole till the young, which are naked when they leave the egg, are fledged, being fed all the time by the male through the slit left in the enclosing partition, which just allows room for the bird's bill to be pushed through. The eggs are white when laid, but generally become discoloured during incubation.

All Oriental forms belong to one subfamily. By Europeans in India Hornbills are commonly, but incorrectly, called "Toucans." The true Toucans (Rhamphastidae) are peculiar to South America, and are allied to the Barbets.

Key to the Genera.

a. Casque, when present, cellular within; bill considerably curved; hind neck and middle of back feathered.
a1. Casque large in adults, as high as upper mandible or higher.
a2. Casque broad, concave above, ending anteriorly in two points…………………..DICHOCEROS, p. 142.
b2. Casque compressed, ending in a single point………………..ANTHRACOCEROS,p.l43.
b1. Casque moderate or small or wanting,
c1 Casque low, broad, rounded above, composed of transverse ridges……………….RHYTIDOCEROS, p. 146.
d2. No casque; oblique ridges at side of base of upper mandible: size large……………….ACEROS, p. 149.
e2. Casque small, compressed, its upper edge curving down in front.
a3. Crest moderate, of ordinary feathers.
a4. Chin and throat naked ……………….ANORRHINUS, p. 150.
b4. Chin and throat feathered……………….PTILOLAEMUS, p. 151.
b3. Crest very large, loose-textured……………….BERENICORNIS, p. 153.
f2. Casque small, compressed and pointed, or wanting; no ridges on side of bill:
size of birds small……………….LOPHOCEROS, p. 154.
b. Casque solid in front; bill nearly straight; neck all round and middle of back naked ; middle rectrices very long……………….RHINOPLAX, p. 158.

BookTitle: 
The Fauna Of British India including Ceylon and Burma
Reference: 
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol.3 1895.
Title in Book: 
Family BUCEROTIDAE
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Year: 
1895
Page No: 
140
M_ID: 
9581
M_SN: 
Bucerotidae
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
1454

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