+27 82 997 7880

Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus)

Colouring

Bare parts: iris brown to red-brown; bill black, cream wedge-shaped patch on upper jaw, diagonal white ridges on lower jaw, tip of upper jaw reddish, base creamy yellow, tip of lower jaw reddish, rest black with diagonal white ridges; gular skin dark grey, light green; legs and feet black, soles white. Generally dull greyish above and on throat and breast; rest of underparts whitish; tail brownish, tipped white.

Voice

High-pitched whistled call, starting off with a few lower notes, woop-woop-woop, weep-weep-weep-weep, weep-weep, weep-weep, etc.; whistles sometimes interspersed with clicking sounds; often calls in chorus.

Habitat

Bushveld, savannah, woodland.

Distribution

Common resident, in South Africa absent from most of the highveld, Natal, Cape, southern Namibia and treeless Kalahari Sandveld.

Habits

In pairs when breeding; otherwise gregarious in small groups or large dry-season concentrations of 100 or more birds. Forages in trees, rarely on ground; hawks insects in flight.

Flight undulating, bouyant and dextrous; tail raised on alighting. Frequents grassfires. When calling, flaps wings and points bill upwards.

Food

Insects, solifugids, rodents, frogs, chameleons, seeds, fruit, peanuts.

Breeding

Season: Usually October to November. Nests: Natural hole in tree trunks.

Incubation and fledging: Clutch: 3-5 white eggs. Incubation: 24-26 days by females only. Nestling: 43-49 days.

References: Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.
Kenneth Newman: Newman's Birds by Colour. 2000

Photographed  by Gavin Orbell and Eric Stockenstroom