Hornbills

Ten species of hornbills reside in South Africa, and are so named because their bills resemble cattle horns. The Southern Ground-Hornbill, largest hornbill in the world, is endangered and is mostly confined to national reserves and parks.  Increase numbers is limited because of clearing of specialized habitat and exceedingly slow reproductive rates. They have long eyelashes (uncommon in birds) and the male has a magnificent red throat pouch that inflates producing a “lion-like” sound that carries a long distance.  Though it can fly, it spends most of its time walking fast and far across the savannas of Africa.  The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill’s long beak is up to 1/6th of the entire body length. They are nicknamed the “flying banana” because of their large yellow beak. When nesting the female, like other hornbills, closes the opening of her hollow tree cavity with mud and feces.  She and the chicks are fed by the male through a small hole until the chicks are able to feed themselves.  The Southern Red-billed Hornbill, one of the smaller hornbills, is native to the savannas and dryer bush lands. They were the inspiration behind the character Zazu from The Lion King. The Crowned Hornbill has a distinctive red beak with a stocky casque (a hollow or spongy structure made out of keratin) on the upper mandible.  They are a common resident of the coastal and riverine forests.