What do hornbills eat in Thailand?

on 13th January 2008

Hornbills are mainly fruit eaters, although their diet also includes invertebrates including caterpillars, small amphibians, reptiles and mammals.

In Thailand a total of 13 species have been recorded. The different types of foods these spectacular birds take have been well documented by the Hornbill Research Foundation of Thailand.


Figs (Ficus spp.) are an important source of the hornbill’s diet. There are many species of figs and many of them flower throughout the year. This means that there would always be some trees figging at any time of the year.

Other than figs, a total of more than 60 species of rainforest trees provide these birds with food. These are mainly under-storey trees, many of which are also found outside the forests.

The most important of these plant families include Myristicaceae: Myristica (left top), Knema (left middle) and Gymnacranthera (below, top left); Meliaceae: Aglaia spectabilis (below, top middle), Chisocheton (left bottom), Dysoxylon; Annonaceae: Polyalthia (below, top right); Lauraceae: Litsea (below, bottom left); Myrtaceae: Syzygium; Palmae: Oncosperma; Rubiaceae: Canthium below, bottom right); Sterculiaceae: Sterculia (below, bottom middle) and Theaceae:



Besides fruits, hornbills have been known to take millipede (below left), caterpillar, grasshopper, beetle (below middle), gecko and rat (below right). An animals diet is most important during nesting as the growing chicks need a constant source of proteins.


Two earlier posts on hornbills of Thailand are found HERE: 1 and 2.

Input from Hornbill Research Foundation; images courtesy of Dr Pilai Poonswad.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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