FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


What is a Ground-Hornbill?
The two ground-hornbill species are the most primitive and largest hornbills, not sealing their nest like the rest. The species occur on either side of the equator, and both are large black turkey-sized birds with extensive, brightly coloured bare facial skin. They have the longest legs among hornbills and walk on tip toe, and when they fly the white primary wing feathers are obvious. They have a deep booming 4-note call that they utter at dawn, an alarm clock for rural people with a rhythm that is captured in traditional drumming.

How long does a Southern Ground-Hornbill live?
A Southern Ground-Hornbill is estimated to live up to 50 or even 60 years.

What do Ground-Hornbills sounds like?
Click here.

When does the facial skin of juveniles turn red?
A juvenile has beige facial skin up to about two years old. The skin then becomes mottled with red and blue spots. The facial skin will be entirely coloured at about four years old.  

Where do Ground-Hornbills nest?
Southern Ground-Hornbills nest in large natural cavities in huge trees. There have also been records of them nesting in cliff faces and earth banks, especially in KwaZulu Natal.  

What do Ground-Hornbills eat?
They are carnivorous birds. They will eat grasshoppers, worms, frogs, lizards, snakes and even tortoises, or catch hares, squirrels, mongoose or small birds. Ground hornbills do not drink water, but rather get moisture from the food they eat.  

Can Ground-Hornbills fly?
Yes, they are strong flyers but are seldom seen in flight as they fly low, and quite noisily, through the trees. They do not soar like other large birds.  

Where do Ground-Hornbills occur?
Southern Ground-Hornbills  occur throughout the African savannas south  of the Equator, in a continuous swathe  from the East coast of South Africa through  Zimbabwe, and across to Botswana,  Zambia and  Tanzania. The Northern or Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill occurs north of the equator across sub-Saharan Africa.    

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