Tockus monteiri (Monteiro's hornbill) 

Monteirose neushoringvoŽl [Afrikaans]; KŰrwÍ [Tswana]; Monteir-tok [Dutch]; Calao de Monteiro [French]; Monteirotoko [German]; Calau de Monteiro [Portuguese]

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Tockus monteiri (Monteiro's hornbill)  

Monteiro's hornbill. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

 

The Monteiro's hornbill is near endemic to southern Africa, occurring in Namibia and Angola. It lives in the driest habitats of any hornbill in the world, preferring desert-like habitats with lots of rocky hills. It feeds mostly on small animals, especially invertebrates, but it may resort to eating seeds, fruit and bulbs in the dry season. It usually nests in tree or rock cavities, although it regularly uses nest boxes. It lays 2-8, average 4-6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female, for 24-27 days. The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is roughly 22 days old, after which the oldest chicks reseal the entrance. They eventually leave when they are 44-46 days old, becoming fully independent a few days later.

Distribution and habitat

Occupies a small area from south-west Angola to north-west and central Namibia. It occurs in the driest habitats of any hornbill in the world, preferring desert-like habitats with lots of rocky hills; also in large, flat areas with scattered trees.

Distribution of Monteiro's 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).

Food 

It feeds mostly on small animals, especially invertebrates, hunting for them on the ground and in low shrubs. In the dry season it may resort to eating seeds, fruit and bulbs as prey becomes more scarce. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • It usually nests in natural tree or rock cavities, but it also regularly uses nest boxes. The male searches for potential nesting sites, plugging with mud the ones he thinks might be suitable to try to discourage other cavity-nesters. Once he has a marked them he then presents them to the female, who chooses which cavity to use. The inside of the nest is sometimes lined with crushed millipedes, which are thought to serve as an antibiotic to control parasites. The female then seals the entrance from the inside, using faeces and material supplied by the male, leaving a small slit through which the male passes food to her.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-March, peaking from January-March, about 1 month after the first heavy summer rains.
  • It lays 2-8, usually 4-6 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 24-27 days, fed by the male through the entrance slit.
  • The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is roughly 22 days old, after which the oldest chicks reseal the entrance. They eventually leave when they are 44-46 days old, becoming fully independent a few days later.

Threats

Not threatened, with an estimated population of 340 000-375 060. However, about 70% of its population live in commercial rangeland, making them vulnerable to overgrazing.

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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