Red-billed hornbill

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Red-billed hornbill
Red Billed Hornbill.jpg
At Samburu National Reserve
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Bucerotiformes
Family: Bucerotidae
Subfamily: Bucerotinae
Genus: Tockus sp.
Tockus erythrorhynchus - Distribution.png
Distribution of Red-billed Hornbills
T. rufirostris

The red-billed hornbills are a group of hornbills found in savanna and woodland of sub-Saharan Africa. They are now usually split into five species, the northern red-billed hornbill (T. erythrorhynchus), western red-billed hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzanian red-billed hornbill (T. ruahae), southern red-billed hornbill (T. rufirostris) and Damara red-billed hornbill (T. damarensis), but some authorities considered them all to be subspecies of a single species.

The northern red-billed hornbill has a black stripe on the back of its head, reddish ocular skin and dark eyes.
T. damarensis, illustration by Keulemans, 1892
T. kempi is the only species with both dark eyes and blackish ocular skin
At a nest in Gambia

Description[edit]

This group of conspicuous birds have mainly whitish underparts and head, grey upperparts, long tails, and a long and curved red bill which lacks a casque. The sexes are similar, but the female has a smaller bill. They are generally large, at 42 centimetres (17 in) long, but the entire group are considered some of the smaller hornbills.

Behaviour[edit]

Breeding[edit]

During incubation, the female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

Feeding[edit]

They are omnivorous, taking insects, fruit and seeds. They feed mainly on the ground and will form flocks outside the breeding season.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Zazu, a character in the Lion King animated film series, is a red-billed hornbill.

References[edit]

External links[edit]