Indian Grey Hornbill bill grappling and aerial jousting

on 31st March 2010

Raju Kasambe of Nagpur, India managed to photograph the bill grappling and aerial jousting of the Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) in Nagpur, India. Raju has been studying this hornbill for the last three years but only on 20th March 2010 was he successful in obtaining good images.

The two hornbills indulged in such behaviour while perching on the same branch or on two nearby branches of a tree. They even bill-grapple when airborne, before landing on the branch of a tree. One male was seen tearing a short piece of branch from a tree it was perching on when confronting a nearby male.

Such behaviour has been described by Kemp (2001) as having “no obvious or immediate function.” It also includes mandibulating of sticks in the bill.

An earlier post describes the Malabar Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceros coronatus) indulging in locking bills between two males in northern Karnataka, India. Such play took place during flight to pre-roosting trees. Between different sexes, only gentle touching of bills was observed.

Over in Johor, Malaysia, interlocking of bills was reported in the Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris).

Kemp, A. C., 2001. Family Bucerotidae (Hornbills). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 6. Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 436-523.

Image by Raju Kasambe.

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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