Top Header

Bird Glossary

Both knowledge and love are powerful assets in the conservation of the remaining wildlife in the world. Tourism, if done correctly could be the saving grace for the birds of this magnificent country. Our hope is that you will be enticed to come & learn more about these fantastic creatures. Once you visit Thailand and learn about the birds, it is high likely that you'll fall in love with both the country's bird-life and, of course, the people.


Female Great Hornbill in a fruiting treeGreat Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is a very large bird, roughly 120 cm in total length. The male has a red eye and a bit of black on the casque. The female's eye is white. Great Hornbills have a yellow slash in their wings and a big yellow bill. They are often heard before they're seen. If you hear a whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sound, look up! Their wings make this sound when flapping. There's a steady shhhhhh sound when they're gliding. This hornbill is actually common in places like Khao Sok National Park. (Photo is a female Great Hornbill.)

Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros) is rare. It is limited to the deepest southern parts of Thailand. It is about the same size as the Great Hornbill. Again, the male has a red eye and the female has white.

Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros currugatus), a gregarious bird, is approximately 100 cm in total body length. It can be found along the Malay Peninsula and along the Burmese border. It's also found in the far north and in a few select areas of Isaan (northeastern Thailand).

White-crowned Hornbill (Berenicornis comatus) is found in southern Thailand. It's a bit smaller than the Wreathed Hornbill, usually about 100 cm in total length. This bird can sometimes be found feeding on the ground.

Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) is the smallest hornbill found in Thailand. It's total body length is about 70 cm. This hornbill is often seen in Phang Nga Bay and it is quite common. They are often seen in groups. The Southern Pied Hornbill looks very similar to the Oriental Pied. The Southern Pied has totally white undertail coverts and tail. The Oriental Pied has a white-tipped tail.

Brown Hornbill (Ptilolaemus Tickelli) is not found in the south. It is slightly larger than the Oriental Pied Hornbill. It is restricted primarily to Thailand's border with Burma and a couple other places in the north. Brown Hornbills are gregarious, yet shy.

Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) is as big as the Great Hornbill. It is easy to recognize in flight due to its longer center tail feathers. It has an eerie call which starts out as a series of hoots. It speeds up and rises into an accelerating sound which is a sort of ha, ha, ha. Once you hear one, you'll not soon forget it! Like a lot of hornbills, it often makes this call shortly before taking flight.

Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus) is rare. It is found in a few select areas of the south. It's total body length being around 75 cm. Its plumage is almost entirely black except for a little bit of white on the tip of the tail. Males occasionally have a white cap. The male's casque is yellowish. The female's bill and casque are darker.

Bushy-crested Hornbill (Annorrhinus galeritus) is approximately 90 cm in length. It is a very gregarious bird which is often seen flying in groups. It's fairly noisy. You often hear groups calling in gradually increasing volume. These are very common in Khao Sok National Park.

Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) is about 120 cm in length. It is a rare bird, found only in a few areas of the northwest.

Wrinkled Hornbill (Rhyticeros corrugatus) is approximately 80 cm in length. It is nearly extinct.

Plain-pouched Hornbill or Blyth's Hornbill (Rhyticeros subruficollis) is a little smaller than than the Wreathed Hornbill at 90 cm in length. It is possible to see in Khao Sok National Park, especially when there are fig trees in fruit.

Hornbill Facts

All of the hornbills found in Thailand are resident... they don't migrate.

Hornbills are primarily frugivorous though they will take small reptiles, insects, and even other smaller birds during molting or when rearing young.

Hornbills make their nests in holes in trees. Dipterocarpus, massive straight-trunked trees, are a popular species for hornbills to build their nests. If you see hornbills, there is some nice jungle somewhere nearby.

The female seals herself in a hole using mud and droppings. This helps prevent predation. The male's role is that of a food provider. He will bring the female and their young food until the young are ready to leave their transitory home.

Click here to read more about Thailand's hornbills.

Some of Thailand's more interesting birds

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio prophyrio) is found from Bangkok north along with a few selected sites throughout the Thailand. It is locally common. It is easy to see at Thale Noi near Songkla. It feeds on the abundant apple snails in this marshland. The Purple Swamphen averages 40 cm in total length.

Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) is the most common barbet in Thailand. It is found throughout the country. It is 15 cm in length. (Photo on the right.)

Pin-tailed Parrotfinch (Erythrura prasina) is distributed in small sectors throughout Thailand. It averages 12 cm in total length though the tail can add a bit more. It feed heavily on bamboo seeds.

Blue Whistling Thrush (Myiophoneus caeruleus) is common to most of Thailand. It measures about 34 cm in length. It has a very melodic song along with a harsher call. It can be seen in Phang Nga Bay.

Great Argus (Argusianus argus) is difficult to see. It is heard quite often at Khao Sok National Park. It measures from 75 to 200 cm in length. It is found only in the south. These stunning birds are not gregarious. The males seem to prefer their own company.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is distributed throughout certain regions of Thailand. It is not a resident bird. It is 100 cm in length.

Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus) is found primarily in the northwest. It can be seen in a couple places in the northeast. It is fairly common. It measures 35 cm in length.

Great Barbet (Megalaima virens) is a fairly common resident of the far northwest corner of Thailand. It measures 32 cm in length. Like most barbets, it tends to stay high in the trees, making it difficult to see. It feed mainly on fruit. Did you know that there are over 400 species of figs in Thailand? Figs are an important food source for a lot of animals and a variety of birds including hornbills.

Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) is a resident in the south. It's a migrant visitor to areas in the central region of the Kingdom. Like some other pittas, it favors lowland jungle. Since this type of jungle is the easiest to access, habitat destruction is a perpetual threat to the survival of the species. The Hooded Pitta measures 20 cm in length.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is found in most regions of Thailand except the deep south and around Bangkok. It is often seen in cultivated areas where it prods the earth for insects and grubs. It measures 30 cm in in total length. There is only one species worldwide.

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) are common to the entire country. Unlike most kingfishers in Thailand, it doesn't live primarily around water. Instead of fishing for a living, it prefers to catch lizards and insects. It measures 28 cm.

Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) is found throughout the Kingdom except for the deep south and the central regions of the north. It measures 15 cm in length. It's called a "hanging" parrot because it does... it hangs nearly upside down.

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) is an illusive bird that often ducks into cover when spotted instead of taking flight. It is found everywhere except in the northeast corner. It can sometimes be seen on the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay. It measures 33 cm in length.

Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) looks like a lot of domestic chickens for a reason. It is their forerunner. It measures 45 to 75 cm in length. It roost in trees and it can fly.