Abyssinian ground hornbill

Bucorvus abyssinicus

On the picture you can see a northern hornbill. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
  • Weight
    ca. 4 kg
  • Habitat
    Savannahs, scrublands

Family loyalty

Hornbills nest in natural cavities of large trees such as the baobab tree. The female lays a clutch of one to two eggs and remains in the nest throughout the breeding season (5 – 6 weeks). During this period, the male brings food to the incubating female and cares for the young. He is supported at this from the offspring of the year before. Once the chicks have hatched, the female will join her partner in the search for food.

The picture shows a running Abyssinian ground hornbill walking to the left side of the picture.

Strong bill as versatile tool

The Abyssinian ground hornbill has a characteristic long, down-curved bill topped with a helmet-like prominence called a casque. The bill is not only decorative, but also serves as an excellent tool for picking up prey such as snakes, digging for insects and collecting leaves and grass to line the nest. The powerful bill is also employed as an effective weapon to keep enemies at bay.

The colourful throat sac or wattle can be infl ated to produce a grunting call. In males it is red (apart from blue upper throat), while in females blue.