Tockus leucomelas (Southern yellow-billed hornbill)

GeelbekneushoringvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Suidelike geelbekneushoringvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Rukoko (generic term for hornbills with red or yellow bills) [Kwangali]; Goto, Hoto (generic names for hornbill) [Shona]; Nkorho (generic term for smaller hornbills) [Tsonga]; KŰrwÍ [Tswana]; Geelsnaveltok [Dutch]; Calao leucomŤle [French]; Gelbschnabeltoko [German]; Calau-de-bico-amarelo [Portuguese]

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Tockus leucomelas (Southern yellow-billed hornbill) Tockus leucomelas (Southern yellow-billed hornbill)

Southern yellow-billed hornbill. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

Southern yellow-billed hornbill, Marloth Park, South Africa. [photo Andries Steenkamp ©]

The Southern yellow-billed hornbill is near-endemic to southern Africa, with small populations in southern Angola, southern Zambia and southern Malawi, occurring in dry, open Acacia and broad-leaved savannas. It eats a wide range of animals and plant products, mainly foraging on the ground, looking for small animals, fallen fruit and seeds. It nests in natural tree holes 0.75-12 m above ground, the female closing the entrance with her own faeces. It lays 2-6, usually 3-4 eggs which are incubated by the female for roughly 24 days, while the male feeds her through the entrance hole. The chicks stay in the nest for 42-47 days, remaining near the nest for a few more days before joining their parents in foraging trips.

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, with small populations in southern Angola, southern Zambia and southern Malawi. In southern Africa it is common in Botswana, northern Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa. It generally prefers dry, open Acacia and broad-leaved savannas, but it also occurs in many wooded vegetation types, provided they have sparse ground cover.

Distribution of Southern yellow-billed 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, near Satara, Kruger National Park, South Africa 1965, [© Transvaal Museum]

 

Predators and parasites

Food 

 

Southern yellow-billed hornbill with mouse in its bill, Kruger National park, South Africa. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

 

It eats a wide range of animals and plant products, doing most of its foraging on the ground, chasing after small animals and picking up fallen fruit. It also hawks flying insects and digs for insects, although infrequently and usually in the dry season. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It nests in natural tree holes up to about 12 m above ground, lining the chamber with dry leaves and small bark flakes. The entrance is sealed by the female from the inside with her own faeces, leaving a vertical slit 5-15 mm wide.
  • Egg-laying season always follows good rains, usually peaking from September-October.
  • It lays 2-6, usually 3-4 eggs which are incubated by the female for roughly 24 days; the male feeds the female through the narrow slit.
  • The chicks stay in the nest for 42-47 days, remaining near the nest for a few more days before joining their parents in foraging trips. When the oldest chick is 19-27 days old the female leaves the nest for the first time since laying the eggs.

Threats

Not threatened, in fact widespread and common.

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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