The Sulu Hornbill

Anthracoceros montani

Photo of a Sulu Hornbill by Desmond Allen. Via

The Philippines not only has the unfortunate distinction of having the most threatened hornbills in the world1, but the two most threatened hornbills in the world as well: the Visayan Wrinkled Hornbill and the Sulu Hornbill2. The latter closest to extinction with an estimate of only 20 pairs living on the Philippine islands of the Sulu archipelago3.

The Sulu Hornbill is covered almost entirely in black from its bill down to its wings save for a brilliant white tail that hangs below it while perched. Not much is known about the Sulu Hornbill, but local reports indicate that they lay two eggs from which their chicks emerge between May and June. They've also been reported to feed on forest fruit, small lizards, and insects4. It can only be found on three islands of the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines: Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, and Sanga-Sanga4.

The Sulu Hornbill can only be found on the islands of Tawi-Tawi, Jolo, and Sanga-Sanga.

The Sulu Hornbill is a critically endangered species5

By the mid-1990's clearance of primary forest on the Sulu island of Tawi-Tawi had left lowland patches of forest highly degraded, leaving remaining forest confined to rugged mountainous areas. Military activity between the Philippine army and local armed groups on the islands prevent safe passage for conservation and study to save the Sulu Hornbill. The subsequent high gun ownership has also contributed to the species harvested for food and shot for target practice5. If conservation efforts do not take place as soon as possible at a rate fast enough to curb the decline of the Sulu Hornbill, it might become the first hornbill to become extinct in the 21st century4.

How you can help

The following organizations contribute not only to the conservation of this particular species, but to the diverse range of birds found in the Philippines.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

Established in 2003, The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines is the pioneer bird watching club in the nation dedicated to promoting bird watching as a hobby and as a responsible way of enjoying the Philippines' most coveted natural habitats. The volunteer-led club contributes to the conservation of Philippine endangered birds by promoting bird watching as a healthy and recreational practice, encouraging responsible behavior from local communities and tourists alike, as well as environmentally-responsible policies from local governments and officials.

The Haribon Foundation

Started in 1972, Haribon, named after the Philippine Eagle's name in Filipino for "Bird King", gave birth to the Philippine environmental movement. Eventually coupling itself with international conservation organizations such as BirdLife International and the World Wildlife Fund, Haribon has contributed greatly not only to help establish conservation reserves and parks for Philippine birds and other species domestically, but to publications that put the Philippines on the map internationally in regards to its unique but endangered bird populations.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation

Since 1987 the Philippine Eagle Foundation has been focused on saving the Philippine Eagle and consequently saving hundreds of other species that live within its forest realms in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. With the help of donors and grants, the foundation conducts research, rehabilitation, and captive breeding programs.

Help endangered birds worldwide

BirdLife International is the world's largest partnership of conservation organizations. 117 organizations make up this partnership in over 100 countries across the globe, including the Philippine's own Haribon Foundation. Together, they create bird mascots and flagships to help push for the conservation of endangered birds, consequently conserving the forests they reside and the other wildlife in these areas. By doing so they conserve biodiversity in these areas to improve the quality of people's lives and integrating bird conservation into sustaining people's livelihoods. A symbiotic relationship is then created between people and the environment, as opposed to the "one uses the other" practice that is currently established the world over.

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*This site is not affiliated with the "Angry Birds" game, Rovio, or Jaakko Iisalo, and is for educational purposes only. Learn more about the illustrator here. If you find any errors please let me know!


1. From the description of the "Philippine Hornbills Conservation Programme" by William Oliver.

2. Wikipedia on "Hornbills".

3. "Facing Extinction: The world's rarest birds and the race to save them." P. Donald, N. Collar, et al (Google books).

4. description on the Sulu Hornbill (Anthracoceros montani).

5. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Anthracoceros montani (Sulu Hornbill)