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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Grey Hornbill

Afrikaans name: Grysneushoringvoël

African Grey Hornbill in Kruger National Park

African Grey Hornbill

Photo © Steven Herbert

Tockus nasutus

African Grey Hornbill behaviour

This hornbill certainly knows how to draw attention to itself! It will perch on an exposed perch and give its loud “piping" call. They are most often seen singly. Their flight is rather undulating.

African Grey Hornbill appearance

Male and female have similar plumage, but the bill of the male is black and that of the female is reddish on the tip. They reach a length of around 45 cm which is quite small when compared to other hornbills. African Grey Hornbills weigh around 150 grams.

African Grey Hornbill diet

From rats to peanuts I think that this bird eats everything it comes across! Items recorded in its diet are rodents, insects, spiders, frogs, fruit and, of course, peanuts. Most often they will fly from tree to tree and see what food it can find before moving on. They will, however, also go to ground and hunt for food there.

African Grey Hornbill breeding

These birds don’t make their own nest holes. They prefer natural cavities in trees or occasionally, disused barbet nests. The female enters the cavity when she is ready to lay her eggs and seals up most of the entrance hole, leaving a small slit which will allow the male to provide her with food. It can take her up to 10 days to lay her 3 to 5 eggs. Once the chicks are around 3 weeks old the female leaves the nest, and the chicks reseal the entrance. They are then fed by the parents. The chicks leave the nest when ready to fly.

African Grey Hornbill in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

African Grey Hornbill distribution and habitat

Although it is not as common as the Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, it is common and widespread over much of sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa it is found, in suitable habitat, over most of the northern and north-eastern parts of the country. Their preferred habitats are woodland, thornveld and savanna.


References and further reading

< A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 104

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 97

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 44

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 130

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Year Published: 2004 - Page: 182

Geoff Lockwood's Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Year Published: - Page: 27

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 2000 - Page: 258

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 397

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 394

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 266

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 130

List of South African Birds

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