The Rhinocerous Hornbill is not just the national bird of Malaysia but also the state bird of Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo.
The Bornean Dayak people believe it to be the ‘chief of the worldly birds’.
It is the largest of all the hornbill family, around the size of a swan – 36cm to 48cm in length.
During mating season, the female needs to find a male she can trust completely. This is because when she lays her egg she will retreat to a hollowed out crevice in a tree and locks herself in by sealing up the hole with a paste of fruit, mud and faeces. She will stay in there for the entire incubation and rearing period and her mate will be responsible for bringing both her and the young food. The rhinoceros hornbill eats fruit, insects, small reptiles, rodents and smaller birds.
The large ornamentation on top of the Hornbill’s beak is called it’s casque and is made from the same stuff that makes our fingernails – keratin. The structure of the casque is mostly hollow, and is thought to amplify the hornbill’s calls so they can be heard all throughout the rainforest. It faces threat from humans hunting it for it’s meat, casque and feathers.