Grey Cheeked Hornbill

Bycanistes subcylindricus

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

Also called Black-and-white-casqued hornbill.

Distribution: Patchy range along northern and eastern tropical rainforests, and in northern Angola, including the West, East and Central African countries mentioned.

Description: 60-70 cm. Male 1078-1525 g; female 1000-1250 g. Male, from male Brown-cheeked and White-thighed Hornbills where they overlap, by mainly black bill and casque as well as tail pattern. Fairly large hornbill; black head with grey cheeks, black upper half of body with white rump and lower half of underparts; wings black with broad white edges; tail black with white half of outer feathers. Bill and most of casque black; large casque has creamy patch extended from posterior end. Bare skin around eyes is red. Female is smaller, with smaller all-black bill and casque and pink orbital skin. Juvenile is similar to adult but almost casqueless with bill smaller. 

Voice: The call is a loud series of slowly repeated hooting notes. Also a hoarse contact call ark

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: Occurs mainly in the transition zone between patches of evergreen and secondary forests; also occurs in tall deciduous woodlands and nearby cultivation areas; but always prefers primary forest with large trees for nesting. From sea level into hills up to 2,600 m elevation. It feeds mainly on fruits (91% of the diet by volume in one survey); especially many figs (57% of fruits), but fruits from at least 41 tree genera have been identified. Fruits taken vary from 5-60 mm in size but are mainly pea to olive size. Has been recorded eating mosses, fungi and lichens as well. It also takes a variety of small animals, mainly insects such as beetles, moths, termites, caterpillars, crickets and mantids; but also millipedes, snails and vertebrate prey, including lizards, bats, bushbabies and other birds and their nestlings. It feeds mainly in the canopies of large trees, but it also comes down to the ground to pick up fallen fruits or to pursue prey with several individuals hunting together. A hunting group will crash through the trees actively hunting for other birds or roosting fruit bats. In the trees it often follows groups of monkeys or squirrels. It is largely sedentary and usually moves in pairs; the same pair will stay together for years. It will travel up to 6 km to get to a good fruiting tree, especially in the dry season. Might gather in flocks at good feeding sites, where 20-50 birds have been reported. Sometimes congregates in large loose flocks at roosting sites, but usually the resident pair will roost together using the same site regularly. This species can live up to 32 years in captivity.