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.
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:
It nests in tree cavities up to about 12 m above ground, often using the
repeatedly over many breeding seasons. It also visits the site throughout the year,
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.
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.
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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