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Luzon Hornbill

Place to admire: Tropical Paradise

Scientific name: Penelopides manillae

IUCN-status: Least concern


The Luzon Hornbill lives in northern Philippines. It is found mainly on the islands of Luzon, Marinduque, Catanduanes and adjacent islands. These areas contain a tropical rainforest climate.

The Luzon Hornbill prefers primary evergreen dipterocarp forests in the lowlands, river bushes and single fruit trees in the grasslands.


The Luzon’s Hornbill is an omnivore. This means that this bird species eats both animal and plant foods. Nevertheless, the Luzon Hornbill mainly eats fruits and figs. This bird species feeds on fruit from at least 36 native and cultivated plant species. The Luzon Hornbill also eats insects and small animals such as beetles, bird eggs, nesting birds and lizards.

Portions of the diet vary throughout the year, adjusting the diet to nature’s availability.

The Luzon Hornbill congregates, up to 15 individuals, near fruit trees. With its bill, this bird species gathers food. The most common way to gather food is to pick up food with the bill where the food was found. Another technique is to pick up food hidden by objects. The Luzon Hornbill then lifts the object with its bill to get at the food. This bird species also digs into the ground, under bark or in softwood to engage in food gathering. In addition, the Luzon Hornbill will also grab hanging fruit from trees in flight.

Most items (food) the Luzon Hornbill swallows whole. Large items are broken up. These the Luzon Hornbill then separates into edible and non-edible parts, such as the fruit and skin or the insect and wings. In addition, this species of bird does not like hairy fruit, sticky caterpillars or dormant items. It first sweeps these items across a branch or on the ground and only then eats them.

The beak of the Luzon Hornbill fits together precisely. This allows this bird species (with caution) to obtain an egg without breaking it open. In addition, the beak can be used violently to crush something or break open a fruit capsule.


A male Luzon Hornbill has size of 45 centimeters. The color on the head, neck and lower body is cream-colored. The ear pads contain a blackish color. The sides and throat also contain a blackish color. The upper body and wings have a dark brown color. There is a pale band on the underside of the tail. The skin around the eye is bare and has a pink color. The throat also has a pink color.

The Luzon Hornbill has a distinctive ribbed bill. The beak and casque (horn) are brown to black in color. The lower jaw contains pale yellow to pink ridges. The beak ends in a pale tip.

A female Luzon Hornbill is smaller than a male and the entire body is a brown to black color. The rump is even darker. Both the skin around the eye and the skin around the throat have a blue tint.

Social behavior

Luzon’s Hornbills form pairs through mating rituals. These mating rituals consist of beak clapping, calling to each other in duets, and the regular offering of food (from male to female). If the mating ritual is successful, the pair forms a monogamous pair.

The monogamous pair will often call simultaneously, with different postures. Likewise, a loud call is used to sport a potential mate or if one of the two is missing from the territory during the breeding season.

The Luzon’s Hornbill is territorial, and its loud cries allow it to communicate and make known where its territory extends. During the breeding season, this is especially audible and visible. Usually loud cries are called in the early morning, but it can also happen at any time of the day.

The Luzon Hornbill uses a variety of simple and quiet vocalizations. The soft sounds are often used to communicate with each other, attract attention from potential prey and to clarify the presence of fruit. While feeding on fruit, Luzon hornbills also “chuckle” at each other.

Natural behavior

The Luzon Hornbill uses smoothing oil that comes from a gland at the base of its tail to smooth its feathers. Most of its day is spent cleaning its feathers. Because of its long beak, the Luzon Hornbill often has to move in odd positions to clean its feathers. This bird species also often bends its neck to clean its chest. To brush its primary feathers, the Luzon Hornbill flaps one wing. The Luzon Hornbill arranges the feathers on its head and neck by scratching at them with its legs.

The Luzon Hornbill pays extra attention to the beak and casque (horn) to clean them. In doing so, the Luzon Hornbill rubs its beak and casque (horn) on a nearby branch or repeatedly bites down on a thin twig or bark to clean the inside of the beak.


At the Luzon Hornbills in the World Garden Tropical Paradise, breeding activity has been spotted. Currently, the pair is walling in the nesting box. ~ June 2, 2023

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