The great hornbill is a beautiful bird that builds itself a prison

The great hornbill, also known as the concave casqued hornbill is a very large bird with an enormous bill. They are found in India, Nepal, and Southeast Asia. Adorned with beautiful markings and vivid colours, it is a strikingly beautiful animal. This hornbill has a beak that is almost half as long as its body. It uses its beak to pluck figs fruit from trees, as well as the ground. It will also occasionally feed on rodents, small lizards, and even the young of other birds by using its long bill to snatch them out of crevices in trees. The hornbill relies on heavily forested and unlogged areas with an abundance mature trees. Often congregating to feed in groups as large as 150 to 200 birds, they are capable of making a lot of noise, particularly during mating season. The function of the large casque structure on top of the beak is widely debated. Many think it is to amplify sound. Scientists believe it has evolved as a result of sexual selection. Males occasionally use their casques to bash against the beak of another male in flight during courtship competition. Typically, these birds live in smaller groups of 2-40 individuals and they are monogamous in their mating once a pair have been established. The hornbill is known to be a punctual bird, visiting trees in a particular order and at specific times that are similar each day. The hornbill's behaviour is as fascinating and unusual as its appearance. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she selects a hole in the trunk of a tree high into the forest canopy. She seals herself inside the nest by creating a wall made from her own excrement (feces), figs, leaves and sticks. The combination of substances dries like hard clay and keeps predators out. She will leave a small opening through which the male can insert his beak to provide her with food. Hornbills receive sufficient moisture from their diets and they do not need to drink water. Her self incarceration will approximately six weeks. Her chicks hatch from the eggs after four weeks. When they are two weeks old, she will break down the wall and let herself out. She will rebuild the wall and join the male in feeding the young through the narrow slit. When the young are old enough to venture out, they will break the wall and leave the nest. Hornbills are a threatened species, logging and forest destruction for agriculture has led to serious habitat loss for these incredible birds. They are also easily sighted and are commonly hunted for their casques which are kept as trophies or sold on the black market. Hornbills are also a highly sought animal for the illegal pet trade. Conservation education and efforts are increasing to protect this incredible bird so that we do not lose them forever.