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  • WordNet 3.6
    • n hornbill bird of tropical Africa and Asia having a very large bill surmounted by a bony protuberance; related to kingfishers
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Hornbill (Zoöl) Any bird of the family Bucerotidæ, of which about sixty species are known, belonging to numerous genera. They inhabit the tropical parts of Asia, Africa, and the East Indies, and are remarkable for having a more or less horn-like protuberance, which is usually large and hollow and is situated on the upper side of the beak. The size of the hornbill varies from that of a pigeon to that of a raven, or even larger. They feed chiefly upon fruit, but some species eat dead animals.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n hornbill A large non-passerine bird of the family Bucerotidæ: so called from the horny casque, in some cases of enormous size, which surmounts the bill. The bill is itself very large, like that of a toucan, on which account the hornbills have been associated with the toucans; they must be classed, however, with the kingfishers and hoopoes, notwithstanding the slightness of their superficial resemblance to these birds. There are two groups of hornbills, the tree-hornbills and ground-hornbills. The latter, which constitute the genus Bucorvus, have the casque quite hollow and in some cases open in front. One of the largest of the tree-hornbills is the rhinoceros hornbill, Buceros rhinoceros, having a bill nearly a foot in length, and surmounted by a horn nearly as large. It inhabits Sumatra. The concave-casqued hornbill of Asia is B. bicornis. A Philippine species is B. hydrocorax. African hornbills are chiefly of the genera Tockus, as T. erythrorhynchus, and Bycanistes, as B. buccinator; the ground-hornbills are also exclusively African. All these singular birds are for the most part frugivorous, and some of them are known to have the curious habit of imprisoning the female in the hole in which she lays her eggs, by stopping up the entrance, leaving room only to pass in food to her during her confinement.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Hornbill a bird about the size of the turkey, having a horny excrescence on its bill
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. horn; Scand. and Ger. horn, Gael. and W. corn, L. cornu, Gr. keras.


In literature:

Another species like it is called the Abyssinian hornbill.
"Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa" by David Livingstone
He remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge yellow beak with a small bird tied on behind it.
"The Man Who Was Thursday" by G. K. Chesterton
The two Celebes Hornbills have no close allies in those which abound in the surrounding countries.
"The Malay Archipelago" by Alfred Russell Wallace
They also brought a curious fighting ornament worn on the head, made of upper bills of the hornbill.
"Wanderings Among South Sea Savages And in Borneo and the Philippines" by H. Wilfrid Walker
The hornbill darts with a succession of long bounding flights from one tall tree to another.
"Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier" by James Inglis
A hornbill sitting on a dead branch caught sight of us and flapped heavily away emitting horrid squawks.
"Camps and Trails in China" by Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews
The jealous-hearted Hornbill of the Old World never trusts his spouse to wander away from the nest after her duties there once begin.
"The Bird Study Book" by Thomas Gilbert Pearson
For he could see at a glance that the bird so assailing him was a hornbill; and a moment's reflection told him it was the cock.
"The Castaways" by Captain Mayne Reid
For instance, the African hornbills, and one or more of the Asiatic species, are carnivorous, and some even carrion-eaters.
"The Cliff Climbers" by Captain Mayne Reid
Hornbills are fruit-eating birds, and would be good roasted.
"Fire Island" by G. Manville Fenn
If it were not so small I should say it was a nest from the way that great hornbill keeps flapping about and screeching.
"Nat the Naturalist" by G. Manville Fenn
Several other hornbills act in the same way.
"In the Eastern Seas" by W.H.G. Kingston
On passing near the tree where the doctor had seen the hornbills, they observed one of the birds poking its long beak out of its hole.
"The South Sea Whaler" by W.H.G. Kingston
Hornbills are to be numbered among the curiosities of nature.
"Birds of the Indian Hills" by Douglas Dewar
Equally abundant are the hornbill cuckoos, and on almost every tree may be seen sitting a hawk or a buzzard.
"The World's Greatest Books, Volume 19" by Various
HORNBILL, African, inflation of the neck-wattle of the male during courtship, ii.
"The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex" by Charles Darwin
With a measured flapping of wings a brilliantly plumaged hornbill passed over our heads.
"Life in an Indian Outpost" by Gordon Casserly
The Hornbill is famous for the size and shape of its bill, which is very large.
"Natural History in Anecdote" by Various
Hornbills have also turned wild, so we can find nothing to replenish our larder but an occasional kid.
"Siam" by George B. Bacon
Several large hornbills inhabit the highest trees in the forest.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 13, Slice 4" by Various

In poetry:

"A hornbill with a white tail and —"
The big book trembles in my hand —
"— plicated membrane at the base —"
Ah, well-a-day! If that's the case!
"Djolan" by Ellis Parker Butler

In news:

A Rufous- necked Hornbill flies near the outskirts of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in Darjeeling, India, on March 18, 2012.
A Rufous -necked Hornbill flies near the outskirts of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in Darjeeling, India, on March 18, 2012.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo previews some of its African bird shows with a ground hornbill.