Bradfield’s Hornbill

Lophoceros bradfieldi

Photo by Hugh Chittendenden

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

Distribution: Southern Africa; southern Angola and northern Namibia east into southern Zambia, northern Botswana and western Zimbabwe. 

Description: 50 cm. 180-395 g. Fairly small hornbill, plumage is light brown with white eyebrow and belly; bill and casque is pale orange with yellow line at the base. From closely related Crowned Hornbill by much paler plumage and bill, but there is no overlap in range. Female is smaller with smaller casque and paler stripe behind eye. Juvenile has smaller paler bill. 

Voice: The call is a loud high-pitched whistling note, uttered singly or rapidly repeated chleeoo

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: The core habitat for this species is a special environment typical for this part of Africa, with woodlands on sandy alkaline or alluvial soil dominated by Baikiaea and Pterocarpus plants with nearby taller stands of the mopane tree (Colophospermum mopane) endemic to Africa; the elevation is from 200-1,150 m. From here, the hornbill will move out into adjacent areas of grassy savannah and riverine woodlands. It feeds mainly on invertebrate prey such as locusts, mantids, beetles, ants, termites and maggots that it finds in animal dung piles. Occasionally takes vertebrate prey such as lizards and frogs as well as many fruits and seeds, especially during the dry season. Arboreal, it feeds mainly in the trees, but it also drops down to the ground, more frequently so than its close relative, the Crowned Hornbill. It also hawks for flying insects. It is territorial and sedentary, usually seen in pairs or small family groups. Towards the end of the dry season, when food is scarce, it becomes somewhat nomadic and forms flocks, 70 birds together have been reported, wandering locally in search of food.