Northern Red-Billed Hornbill

Northern Red-Billed Hornbill Tockus erythrorhynchus

Type of Animal:

Savanna, woodland, thornscrub, tropical/subtropical shrubland, tropical/subtropical dry forest, can be found as high as 6,900 ft

Ranges from extreme SE Mauritania & S Mali to Ethiopia & Somalia down through Kenya & NE Tanzania

Grayish-brown body w/ white stripe down center, thin red bill larger on male, pale head w/ dark gray neck/white face, white belly, black & white spotted primary feathers, black tail

Fruit, insects, insect larvae, small reptiles, eggs, nestlings, carrion, seeds, small mammals

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks, & aviculture

Flocks of 2-40 birds. Break off into monogamous pairs for breeding/nesting season.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock
Male: 4.37-6.54 oz
Female: 3.17-5.33 oz
1 month 

Life Span:
15 years

Male: 1.96 ft
Female: 1.64 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.96 ft
Female: 1.64 ft

Tail Length:
1 ft, same for both sexes

Main predators are raptors, leopards, lions, caracals, servals, snakes, crocodiles, wild dogs, monkeys, & baboons.
Active during the day (diurnal).
Sometimes kept as pets.
Sexually mature at a year old.
Often seen in proximity w/ closely related species.
Long curved bill handy adaptation for digging.
Beneficial due to helping control insect populations.
Usually feed on the ground.
Vocalize using loud, monotone calls.
Pairs territorial in breeding/nesting season towards own species but not closely related species.

Fun Fact(s):
Very tame in areas around human habitation.
Like many related Tockus species, share interesting symbiotic relationship w/ Dwarf Mongoose. Hornbills act as “watchdogs” & protect mongooses from predators as well as giving them more time to feed. Both parties often engage in insect feasts.
“Zazu” of Lion King fame quite possibly based on this species.
Very interesting nesting habit-pair finds hollow tree cavity & build nest until only narrow opening left for male to bring food to mate, while female walled up during incubation & for 1 month after 1-6 chicks hatch. Female completely molts feathers & unable to fly during incubation period. After ordeal, female breaks free & both parents bring food to chicks for 2 more weeks until they emerge. Chicks stay w/ parents for 6-9 months. Male plays protector role.

1 thought on “Northern Red-Billed Hornbill


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