African Grey Hornbill

Lophoceros nasutus

Red List Status: LC – Least Concern (IUCN 2018)

Distribution: Africa; much of the sub-Saharan continent from below the Sahara desert to northern South Africa (absent from most of Central Africa); it is recorded as a vagrant in Egypt. 

Description: 45-51 cm. Male 172-258 g; female 163-215 g. Male has black casque and black bill with pale grey base of upper mandible. Female is small with all-creamy casque and upper mandible of bill; bill also has reddish tip. Juvenile is like adult male, but casqueless bill is smaller. 

Voice: The call is a plaintive whistling or piping note, uttered singly or in a series; during display the bill is raised to the sky and wings opened up on each note, pi pi pi pipipiew.   

African Grey Hornbill on xeno-canto

Habits: Occurs in a variety of wooded habitat from open savannah and deciduous woodlands to edges of dense forest. At margins of distribution, extends into grasslands and semi-deserts. It is arboreal and lives and feeds mainly in trees and bushes, flying from tree to tree in a buoyant undulating flight. The food is mainly animal prey such as grasshoppers, beetles, mantids and other insects as well as their caterpillars. It also takes vertebrate prey such as lizards and bird nestling; as well as vegetable food like figs and other fruits, acacia seeds and peanuts, especially during the dry season. It is territorial and largely sedentary, usually found in resident pairs or small family parties.