Palawan hornbill -- 白嘴斑犀鸟 (Anthracoceros marchei)

Palawan hornbill, perched
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Palawan hornbill fact file

Palawan hornbill description

GenusAnthracoceros (1)

The bizarre looking hornbills are one of the world’s most distinctive groups of birds, due to the ornamental casque perched on top of their bill. The Palawan hornbill, the only hornbill of the Palawan Island archipelago, has black plumage which contrasts with its conspicuous white tail and pale ivory-yellow bill (4). Bare white skin, tinged with blue, surrounds the reddish-brown eyes and is also found on the throat. Female Palawan hornbills are smaller than males, with a greyish wash to their bills and casque, and dark grey-brown eyes (2). The Palawan hornbill’s raucous caaaww, or kreek-kreek can be heard in the early morning or late evening (4).

Length: 55 cm (2)
Male weight: 580 – 920 g (2)

Palawan hornbill biology

The Palawan hornbill has a diet consisting primarily of fruit, but it will also feed on other plant material, insects and lizards. On its own, or in small groups, it searches for food at any level of the forest, from the canopy to the ground (4). Small groups can be easily detected by their shrill, raucous calls and wing-flapping (4).

Virtually nothing is known about the breeding behaviour of the Palawan hornbill; a male was found in breeding condition in April, and one nest has been photographed, around 20 meters up in a large tree. The entrance of the nest was sealed, with a female and her chicks inside (2).


Palawan hornbill range

Endemic to the Philippines, where it occurs on the island of Palawan and the tiny surrounding islands, including Busuanga, Balabac, Calauit and Culion (2) (4).


Palawan hornbill habitat

The Palawan hornbill inhabits primary and secondary evergreen forest, mangrove swamp and areas of cultivation (4), up to 900 meters above sea level (2)


Palawan hornbill status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Palawan hornbill threats

On Culion Island, the Palawan hornbill used to be common and approachable; on Palawan however, it has been described as being very wild and wary. This suggests that in the past the hornbill has been hunted regularly on Palawan, and has developed a cautious nature as a result (4) (5). Hunting is likely to pose a continued threat today, along with the collection of eggs and chicks for food and the pet trade, and the destruction of its forest habitat (2) (5). Palawan is perhaps the most forested island in the Philippines, but still has only 54 percent of land forested, and this is under increasing pressure from logging, mining and agriculture (6). The situation on Palawan’s satellite islands is variable; Busuanga Island is said to be irreparably damaged by deforestation, Balabac retains only a small amount of forest, and Culion may still retain 40 percent of its original forest cover (5).


Palawan hornbill conservation

The entire Palawan Island archipelago has been designated a Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO designated site in which solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use are tested and promoted (7). Within the reserve, hunting of the Palawan hornbill is prohibited, but enforcement of the law is difficult (2). The Palawan hornbill occurs in St Paul Subterranean River National Park, Palawan, where it is reported to be fairly common (4), and also in the El Nido Marine Reserve (5). The Palawan hornbill may greatly benefit from the protection of further areas, increased enforcement of hunting laws and an awareness campaign amongst people who collect wildlife from the forest (1).

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

Find out more

For further information on the Palawan hornbill see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:



A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. CITES (June, 2007)
  4. Kemp, A.C. (1995) The Hornbills. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
  6. BirdLife International: EBA Factsheet (October, 2007)
  7. UNESCO: Biosphere Reserves (October, 2007)

Image credit

Palawan hornbill, perched  
Palawan hornbill, perched

© Patricio Robles Gil /

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