Plain-pouched hornbill (Aceros subruficollis)

Male plain-pouched hornbill perched in tree
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Plain-pouched hornbill fact file

Plain-pouched hornbill description

GenusAceros (1)

The plain-pouched hornbill is a heavily-built, stout bird with a wide, curved bill typical of all hornbills (2) (4) (5). The pale yellow-bill has a reddish-brown base and is topped with a wrinkled, bony ridge known as a casque, striped yellowish-white with red-brown. Both sexes have conspicuous patches of bare skin around the eyes, but whereas the larger male has a dark rufous-brown head and nape, a creamy white breast, and bulging yellow throat skin, the female is almost all-black with a blue throat sac. Juveniles are similar in appearance to the adult males, but have a relatively small bill without a casque (4).

Buceros subruficollis, Rhyticeros subruficollis.
Female length: 76 - 84 cm (2)
Male length: 86.5 - 89.5 cm (2)

Plain-pouched hornbill biology

One of the most gregarious of all hornbill species, the plain-pouched hornbill is often seen in large flocks, particularly when travelling to, and from, the roost sites (2) (5). Although this species forages mainly in the canopy, it will also come down to the ground to feed. Fruit comprises a significant proportion of its diet, but various animal prey are also taken, including insects, reptiles, and the eggs and chicks of other birds. Little is known about this hornbill’s reproductive biology, but nesting generally takes place between January and June, with one to three eggs being laid in cavities at considerable height in tall, broad trees (2) (4) (5).


Plain-pouched hornbill range

The plain-pouched hornbill occurs in south-east Myanmar, south-west and southern Thailand, and northern Peninsular Malaysia (2) (4).


Plain-pouched hornbill habitat

Typically found in evergreen and mixed deciduous forest, mainly in the lowlands, but also up to an altitude of around 1,000 metres (4).


Plain-pouched hornbill status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Plain-pouched hornbill threats

The size and gregarious nature of the plain-pouched hornbill renders it particular vulnerable to hunters, while its preference for roosting and nesting in tall, mature trees puts it at odds with loggers, even in areas that are selectively logged. As a result, rampant deforestation is a massive threat to this species throughout its range, while hunting is a particular problem in Thailand and Myanmar. In addition to these principal threats, the trapping of the plain-pouched hornbill for the wild-bird trade poses a minor threat (2) (4) (5).


Plain-pouched hornbill conservation

In addition to being listed on Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits all international trade, the plain-pouched hornbill occurs in several protected areas across its range (2). However, some of the most important strongholds for this species, particularly in Myanmar and Thailand, are not currently protected. Thus, the creation of new protected areas, and the enforcement of strict anti-hunting laws within them, is a top priority. Further research into aspects of this species’ ecology and population demographics is also extremely important, as is public awareness raising and the implementation of community based conservation initiatives (2) (4) (5).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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A helmet-like structure or protuberance


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
  2. BirdLife International (November, 2009)
  3. CITES (September, 2008)
  4. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol 6: Mousebirds to hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  5. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

Image credit

Male plain-pouched hornbill perched in tree  
Male plain-pouched hornbill perched in tree

© Andrea Bonetti /

NHPA/Photoshot Holdings Ltd
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United Kingdom
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