Family Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Least Concern

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis)


French: Calao à joues argent German: Silberwangen-Hornvogel Spanish: Cálao cariplateado

Bycanistes cristatus brevis


, 1929,

Usambara Mountains, Tanzania


In the past, N populations sometimes separated as race omissus. Monotypic.


Ethiopian Highlands, SE South Sudan and C Kenya S to E & S Tanzania, N & S Malawi, C Mozambique and SE Zimbabwe; status uncertain in Eritrea.

Descriptive notes

60–70 cm; male 1265–1400 g, female 1050–1450 g. Medium-sized to large black hornbill with noticeable silvery-grey feathering on face; white back, rump and... read more


A series of loud, nasal barks “aanh...aanh...aanh...aanh...”. Also more growling or braying calls.... read more


Inhabits montane and coastal evergreen forest, extending to gallery, riverine and tall deciduous... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly fruit, from at least 26 plant genera, especially cherry-sized drupes and figs; some small animals, mainly insects, but also spiders... read more


Lays in Feb–Jul in Ethiopia, in Oct–Nov in Kenya, and in Aug–Nov in Tanzania and farther S. Monogamous in pairs. Nest in... read more


Makes long flights in search of fruiting trees, including from communal roosts of up to 200 birds,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common, but with patchy distribution, and erratic occurrence in marginal habitats and during droughts. Locally vulnerable to deforestation,... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C. & Boesman, P. (2019). Silvery-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes brevis). 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 24 July 2019).