acta ethologica

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 13–15 | Cite as

Aerial jousting and bill grappling in Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris)

Original Paper


The hornbills in the family Bucerotidae have two interesting, little-studied behaviors—aerial jousting and bill grappling. The number of observations of these interactions is few and interpretations vary greatly. The few observations, always reported as singular events, have been interpreted either as aggression, social interaction, pair bonding, or play. Following our study of the Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris), we suggest that the bill grappling and aerial jousting may best be explained in two different contexts of the life cycle—social play in the non-breeders and as a courtship ritual in the adult, breeding birds.


Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris Casque butting Bill grappling 



We thank Dr. A. Pimplapure for the help in the study; Dr. S. Bawaskar, officer-in-charge of Maharajbag Zoo, and Mr. Khobragade, officer-in-charge Maharajbag Garden, Nagpur for their support on the premises; to Mr. A. Joshi for the help in photography and field work. We thank Susan Craig, the editor, and two anonymous reviewers for improving an earlier draft of the paper.


  1. Ali S, Ripley SD (2001) Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. In: Frogmouths to Pittas, vol 4. Oxford Univ. Press, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  2. Burg CG, Beehler BM, Ripley SD (1994) Ornithology of the Indian subcontinent 1872–1992. An annotated bibliography. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  3. Cranbrook E, Kemp A (1995) Aerial casque-butting by hornbills (Bucerotidae): a correction and an expansion. Ibis 137:588–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Deckert G (1991) Spielverhaltenb ei Elstern, Pica pica, und Grunflugelaras, Ara chloroptera G.R. Gray. Mitt. Zool. Mus. Berl. Ann Orn 15(67 Suppl):55–64Google Scholar
  5. Diamond J, Bond AB (2003) A comparative analysis of social play in birds. Behaviour 140:1091–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kasambe R (2009) Ecology and breeding behaviour of Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris in Central India. PhD Thesis, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Maharashtra, India, pp 157Google Scholar
  7. Kemp AC (1988) Bucerotidae, hornbills. In: Fry CH, Keith S, Urban EK (eds) The birds of Africa, vol 3, Parrots to woodpeckers. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Kemp AC (1995) Bird families of the world—I. The hornbills Bucerotiformes. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Kemp AC (2001) Family Bucerotideae (hornbills). In: del Hoyo J, Elliot A, Sargatal J (eds) Handbook of the birds of the world. Mousebirds to hornbills, vol 6. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, pp 436–523Google Scholar
  10. Kemp AC (2009) Helmeted hornbill ‘drumming’ and ‘jousting’. Proceedings of the 5th International Hornbill Conference, Singapore. pp. 65Google Scholar
  11. Kinnaird MY, O'Brien TG (2007) The ecology and conservation of Asian hornbills. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  12. Kinnaird MYY, Hadiprakarsa P, Thiensongrusamee (2003) Aerial jousting by helmeted hornbills Rhinoplax vigil: observations from Indonesia and Thailand. Ibis 145:506–508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Marzluff JM, Balda RP (1992) The pinyon jay: behavioral ecology of a cooperative corvid. T & AD Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Moreau RE, Moreau WM (1944) Do young birds play? Ibis 86:93–94Google Scholar
  15. Raman TRS (1998) Aerial casque-butting in the Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis. Forktail 13:123–124Google Scholar
  16. Sanft K (1960) Bucerotidae (Aves/Upupae). Tierreich 76:1–176Google Scholar
  17. Schneider G (1945) Rhinoplax vigil (Forst.) und sein nestling. Verh Naturforschenden Ges Basel 61:1–36Google Scholar
  18. Vijayakumar S, Davidar P (2007) Observations on possible social play in the Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus at Dandeli, Northern Karnataka. Indian Birds 3:228–229Google Scholar
  19. Yosef R, Whitman DW (1992) Predator exaptations and defensive adaptations in evolutionary balance: no defence is perfect. Evol Ecol 6:527–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sevadal Mahila Mahavidyalaya CollegeNagpurIndia
  2. 2.International Birding and Research Centre in EilatEilatIsrael

Personalised recommendations