Southern Ground Hornbill female excavating her nest hollow

Southern Ground Hornbill female excavating her nest hollow
Species: Southern Ground-hornbill   Bucorvus leadbeateri
Author: Bob Humphries and Sally Robinson
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Added to IBC: 4 May 2018 - 06:49
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Average: 4.6 (5 votes)
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Altitude (m): 
287 meters


The Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a threatened, turkey-sized, mainly terrestrial hornbill found in southern and parts of East Africa.  Ground Hornbills stay in small family groups and move like undertakers through the bush scanning the ground for prey such as snakes, lizards, amphibians, large insects and even tortoises, then catching them with their formidable black beaks.   This family group comprised one male, one immature, and two females. Adult birds have bright red facial skin; females are smaller than males and have a blue skin patch on their throats; juveniles have yellow-orange facial skin.   The Hornbills were perched together in an ancient Sycamore Fig on the bank of the N’wanetsi River in Kruger Park that contained a large hollow in the trunk. Both females investigated the potential nest hollow, and one began excavating rotten wood from it. While this was happening, the male perched above the hollow calling occasionally with one or both of the females responding antiphonally.


Bob Humphries and Sally Robinson, IBC1490181. Accessible at

Extended version
Bob Humphries and Sally Robinson, IBC1490181. Video of Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri at Kruger National Park, South Africa. Accessible at

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