Malabar Gray Hornbill Ocyceros griseus

Divya Mudappa and T. R. Shankar Raman
Version: 2.0 — Published July 9, 2020


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Usually spends most of their time in the tree canopy, although less arboreal than the Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis). The birds keep up a regular clamor with vocalizations while foraging.


Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing, etc.

Hops from branch to branch on fruiting trees to select ripe fruit that are taken with the tip of the beak and with an upward movement of the head tossed into the gullet.


Flies with a few strong flaps alternating with glides.


Preening, Head-Scratching, Stretching, Sunbathing, Bathing, Anting, etc.

Birds preen themselves and their mates and chicks. Females confined in tree cavity nests will clean and maintain the nest cavity regularly by discarding waste and debris. Small flocks may sometimes descend to the ground for dust-bathing.

Agonistic Behavior

No information.


No information.

Sexual Behavior

Mating System

Birds are monogamous.

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

Pair bonds are maintained year-round and pairs may remain together for numerous years (10). As in other hornbills, courtship feeding, where males present females with fruit, is observed prior to the nesting season. Courtship feeding is often followed by copulation. A possible display involving the male raising the head and bowing accompanied by vocalization directed toward a nearby perched female who was also vocalizing has been noted (30).

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Usually solitary or in pairs, or as small flocks of 4 to 20 birds, which in the breeding season may consist mainly of juveniles. The larger aggregations of up to 20 birds congregate on fruiting trees.


Falls prey to raptors, such as Rufous-bellied Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii). Local tribal people have observed Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsii) and Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis) raiding nests to predate on eggs or nestlings (S. Ganesan, personal communication). See: Rufous-bellied Eagle with a Malabar Gray Hornbill kill.

Recommended Citation

Mudappa, D. and T. R. S. Raman (2020). Malabar Gray Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.maghor2.02