Family Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Least Concern

African Grey Hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus)


French: Calao à bec noir German: Grautoko Spanish: Toco piquinegro

Buceros nasutus


, 1766,

Dakar, Senegal


Closely related to L. pallidirostris. Larger, darker birds from NE Ethiopia and SW Arabia described as race forskalii, and paler ones from S Angola and Namibia as dorsalis, but neither seems distinct enough to warrant recognition. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. n. nasutus (Linnaeus, 1766) – S Mauritania E to Eritrea and S Somalia, S to N Sierra Leone, N Cameroon, N Uganda and N Kenya; SW Saudi Arabia and W Yemen.
  • L. n. epirhinus (Sundevall, 1850) – S Uganda and S Kenya S to S DRCongo, S Angola, C Namibia and N South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    45–51 cm; male 172–258 g, female 163–215 g. Small, dark grey and brown hornbill, wing feathers pale-edged, with white stripe behind eye, white back, white... read more


    A series of shrill piping whistles, the phrases typically shifting intermittently from high-pitched... read more


    Open savanna and deciduous woodland, from margins of sub-desert and grassland to edges of dense... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, especially arboreal grasshoppers, beetles, mantids and scale insects (Coccidae); also tree-frogs, chameleons, lizards, and... read more


    Lays as trees come into leaf, mainly Aug–Mar in C & S Africa; more local variation in W, NE & E Africa, so spread over most... read more


    Sedentary in areas with mixed deciduous woodland and evergreen riparian trees; elsewhere, often... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and common both in Africa and in Arabia, occupying wide range of habitats and capable of extensive movements in search of food. Common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Boesman, P. (2019). African Grey Hornbill (Lophoceros nasutus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 November 2019).