Tockus alboterminatus (Crowned Hornbill)

Gekroonde neushoringvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Umkholwane [Xhosa]; umKholwane (also applied to Red-billed hornbill) [Zulu]; Rukoko (generic term for hornbills with red or yellow bills) [Kwangali]; Kgoropo [North Sotho]; Goto, Hoto (generic names for hornbill) [Shona]; Nkorhonyarhi [Tsonga]; Kuiftok [Dutch]; Calao couronnť [French]; Kronentoko [German]; Calau-coroado [Portuguese]

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Tockus alboterminatus (Crowned Hornbill)

Crowned hornbill. [photo H. Robertson ©]

Crowned Hornbill foraging on fruit. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

The Crowned hornbill occurs from the DRC and Ethiopia to southern Africa, where it is locally common in a wide variety of forest and woodland habitats. It eats a wide range of small animals, such as termite alates, chameleons and millipedes, and plant products, such as fruit, seeds and nuts. It nests in tree cavities 1.2-12 m above ground, used repeatedly over many breeding seasons. It lays 2-5, usually 3-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, for 25-27 days, being fed by the male through a narrow slit. The chicks stay in the nest for 46-55 days, and are able to feed for themselves one month after fledging, but they remain in the area around the nest for 5-7 months more before becoming independent.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from the DRC and Ethiopia to southern Africa, where it is locally common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal,  Eastern Cape and marginally in the Western Cape. It lives in a wide variety of forest and woodland habitats, ranging from coastal and montane forests in the east to riverine and escarpment forest in the north.

Distribution of Crowned hornbill in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Call

 
   

Recorded by June Stannard in Umtamvuna Gorge, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 1968, [© Transvaal Museum]

 

Food 

It eats a wide range of small animals, doing most of its foraging among foliage, scrambling about looking for invertebrates and fruit. It may also fly down to the ground to catch prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It nests in tree cavities up to about 12 m above ground, often using the same site repeatedly over many breeding seasons. It also visits the site throughout the year, with the frequency of visits increasing as the breeding season draws near. About 1-2 weeks before the beginning of the egg-laying period, the female seals herself in the nest using her own faeces. She leaves a small vertical slit, which the male uses to give food to her.
  • The egg-laying season begins with the onset of the summer rains, from October-January, peaking from October-January.
  • It lays 2-5, usually 3-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 25-27 days, being fed by the male through a narrow slit.
  • The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is 25-30 days old, after which the brood reseal the entrance. The chicks stay in the nest for 46-55 days and are able to feed for themselves one month after fledging, becoming fully independent roughly 5-7 months later.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact widespread and locally common, although the populations in small forest patches in the Eastern Cape are vulnerable to wood cutting and burning.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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