Hornbill

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Hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly-coloured and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek. In addition, they possess a two-lobed kidney. Hornbills are the only birds in which the first two neck vertebrae (the axis and atlas) are fused together; this probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill.[1] The family is omnivorous, feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and sometimes cliffs. A number of species of hornbill are threatened with extinction, mostly insular species with small ranges.

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Distribution and habitats

The Bucerotidae include about 55 living species, though a number of cryptic species may yet be split, as has been suggested for the Red-billed Hornbill. Their distribution includes sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to the Philippines and Solomon Islands, but no genus is found in both Africa and Asia. Most are arboreal birds, but the large ground-hornbills (Bucorvus), as their name implies, are terrestrial birds of open savanna. Of the 24 species found in Africa 13 of these species are birds of the more open woodlands and savanna, and some species even occur in highly arid environments. The remaining species are found in dense forests. This contrasts with Asia, where a single species occurs in open savanna and the remainder are forest species.[2]

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