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In our second episode of Thailand Tatler Heroes Season II, our heroes get up close and personal with bright birds of the forest known as the hornbill. But what exactly are hornbills, and why did we choose to highlight them in this year's programme. Read on to learn about these magnificent birds and also stand a chance to win some flights at the end of this article. 

About The Hornbill

To begin with, this is a hornbill:

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Great hornbill (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images)

A "great hornbill" to be exact. There are over 57 types of Hornbills in the world, and Thailand is home to 13 of them, making us one of the countries with the largest variety of hornbills in the world.

You'll know you're looking at a hornbill by its long, downward-turning beak—often brightly coloured. Other than that, however, hornbills, or Bucerotidae as is its scientific name, are a magnificent family of birds emcompassing a wide diversity. Have a look for yourself: 

Red-Billed Hornbill

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Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill

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Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbill

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Rufous-Necked Hornbill

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Sri-Lanka Grey Hornbill

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Sulawesi Hornbill

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Sulu Hornbill

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Tickell's Brown Hornbill

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Trumpeter Hornbill

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Visayan Hornbill

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Von der Decken's Hornbill

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Walden's Hornbill

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White-Crested Hornbill

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Wrinkled Hornbill

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Wreathed Hornbill

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Yellow-Casqued Hornbill

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White-Thighed Hornbill

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Writhed Hornbill

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White-Crowned Hornbill

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African-Grey Hornbill

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African-Pied Hornbill

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Austen's Brown Hornbill

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Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill

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Black-Casqued Hornbill

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Black-Dwarf Hornbill

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Black Hornbill

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Blyth's Hornbill

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Bradfield's Hornbill

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Brown-Cheeked Hornbill

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Bushy-Crested Hornbill

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Crowned Hornbill

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Great Hornbill

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Ground Hornbill

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Helmeted Hornbill

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Hemprich's Hornbill

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Indian-Grey Hornbill

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Jackson's Hornbill

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Knobbed Hornbill

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Luzon Hornbill

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Malabar Grey Hornbill

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Malabar Pied Hornbill

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Mindanao Hornbill

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Mindoro Hornbill

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Narcondam Hornbill

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Northern Yellow Hornbill

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Oriental Pied Hornbill

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Palawan Hornbill

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Pale-Billed Hornbill

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Piping Hornbill

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Plain-Pouched Hornbill

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Rhinoceros Hornbill

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Rufous-Hornbill

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Hornbills are omnivorous birds, feeding mainly on fruits, insects, and small animals. Since their beaks are relatively long (and their tongues are short), when they catch their food by the tip of their beaks, they must toss the food to the back of their throats via a violent jerk of the head.

Hornbills are also the only birds in the world that have their first two neck vertebrae fused together in order to support their beaks. Considering how their beaks have affected the way their spines have evolved and the fact that hornbills use their beaks when climbing, you would think the beaks were hard and heavy. But in fact, hornbill beaks are light, made out of spongy tissues.

A common misconception about hornbills are that they are the same family with toucans, another bird that flaunts an impressive beak. However, what sets hornbills apart from toucans are its casques, or what is often colloquially referred to as the hornbill's "helmet". While some hornbills' helmets are unmissable, in other hornbill species they can be practically invisible. All hornbill casques are hollow except for that of one species: the helmeted hornbill. Deemed the strangest hornbill in the world, the helmeted hornbill is a featherless hornbill, resembling a Pterodactyl, that has an ivory-filled helmet, which it uses for wresting. 

You can find hornbills in sub-tropical forests of Asia and Africa. More romantic than many of us, when hornbills mate, they mate for life. Male hornbills feed the females during courtship, as a way for proving their worth as a mate. During pregnancy, the female hornbill will lock herself up in a tree hollow and depend on her male companion to feed her while she is imprisoned. When she finally gives birth, she will leave the self-created prison and join her mate in feeding her chicks.

Due to the fact that hornbills are able to fly over long distances, they play a very important role in our ecological chain in terms of seed dispersal and plant reproduction. Unfornately, the hornbill population is declining rapidly, in Thailand and globally, for two main reasons: Firstly, hornbills are territorial creatures inhabitting large forested areas. Increased deforestation has resulted in the loss of their homes. Combined with the fact that hornbills can be very slow breeders—the ground hornbill, for instance, takes nine years to give birth to two chicks, of which usually only one survives—the loss of shelter can be fatal to a habitat's hornbill population.  

The second and perhaps more saddening reason hornbills are endangered is because of ivory demands. The helmeted hornbill is massacred by the thousands for their ivory-filled casques, which wind up as souvenirs for tourists. 

This is why we decided to give hornbills the spotlight in this year's Thailand Tatler Heroes. Their plight needs attention and we've got the platform to do it. Stay tuned as our hornbill episode airs on Thai channel 5 at 9:20pm on January 23 and on LINE TV on January 24 at 10pm. 

Bangkok Airways Flights GIVEAWAY: 

Now that you've read about the hornbill, you can stand a chance to win two Bangkok Airways round-trip domestic flight tickets (12 prizes available) by following these steps:  

Step 1: Log on to Thailand Tatler's Facebook page.

Step 2: Like the page and like this post

Step 3: Based on the briefing about hornbills up above, answer/fulfil the following three questions/tasks in the comments of the Facebook post you just liked:

  1. Screencap your favourite hornbill from this Thailand Tatler story. 
  2. Tell us why it's your favourite. 
  3. Why are the hornbills endangered (2 reasons) and what do you think we should do to help prevent their extinction?

This activity ends midnight on Sunday, February 18, 2018. Twelve winners will be selected from participants who followed the rules of the game exactly. Winners will be announced on Monday, February 26, 2018. 

Terms & Conditions

To be eligible to win the prize of a pair of domestic round-trip tickets from Bangkok Airways, participants must comply with the following terms and conditions:

  1. One Facebook account can participate in this activity exactly one time.
  2. The prize of two domestic round-trip tickets from Bangkok Airways is transferable but CANNOT be exchanged for cash. 
  3. Eligible participants are Thai residents only (citizens or expats). 
  4. Only participants who follow each of the three steps fully and correctly are eligible to win. 
  5. Winners will be announced on Thailand Tatler's Facebook page on February 26, 2018. 
  6. Winners will also be notified individually via Facebook message by Thailand Tatler and will be required to respond back with their full name, address, email and phone number within 48 hours.
  7. Winners must also specify their desired route out of the following five options: Chiangmai, Chiangrai, Sukhothai, Phuket, and Samui. Availability of routes are limited; First choice will be given to earliest respondents among winners (first come, first serve). 
  8. Ticket vouchers will be sent to winners within 15 days after the announcement of winners.
  9. Failure to respond within 48 hours will result in the forfeiture of the prize and in such case another winner will be chosen from the runners-ups in the competition.
  10. All decisions and rulings of the judges are final.
  11. Winners will need to follow all the rules on the back of the voucher and contact Bangkok Airways directly to issue the tickets to their selected destination.
  12. Winners are responsible for any charges/fees that may occur on issuing the two domestic round-trip tickets from Bangkok Airways.
  13. We do not accept responsibility for cases of damage, loss or delays. 

Other Conditions 

We reserve the right to disqualify participants who are Thailand Tatler and Bangkok Airways members of staff, those who do not follow the above terms and conditions or those who are suspected of fraud in any form. 

We reserve the right to add, modify, change, improve or discontinue the contest, including to the prize, with or without prior notice.

Personal data supplied during the activity will be processed and stored in accordance with Blue Mango Publishing's data protection and the company's privacy policy. 

Participants have read, acknowledged, understood, accepted and agreed to be bound by the above terms and conditions.