Hemprich’s Hornbill

Lophoceros hemprichii

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

Distribution: East Africa; from Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, across Ethiopia south to east South Sudan, north-east Uganda and northern Kenya. 

Description: 50-58 cm. One female 297 g. Small to medium-sized hornbill with dark-brown upperparts and white belly.  Male has large red bill and narrow casque. Female is slightly smaller, lower mandible of bill has black base; also look for pale green throat skin. Juvenile similar to adult female, except for sooty-brown bill and black specks at base of white tail feathers. 

Voice: The call is a high-pitched whistling, in single notes or series, also a two-syllabic piping note. During display it will raise its bill to vertical, flick its tail and call with a long series of accelerating piping notes pi-pi-pi-pioh-pioh-pioh

Audio from xeno-canto

Habits: Occurs in semi-arid areas and wooded habitat with sycamore trees, especially along rivers and hilly gorges. Can be found in the Ethiopian Highlands, here it feeds mainly on insects like grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars, but it also catches vertebrates such as skinks and chameleons. Feeds mainly in the trees where it also takes some berries and fruits such as figs; but it will drop down and search the ground and rock crevices for termites and other prey as well. It is usually found in resident pairs or small family flocks; it is territorial and sedentary in the main part of the range. In Somalia and Kenya it has been reported to move out of its territory outside of the breeding season, it will move down into the flatlands in response to local rains, flocks of up to 14 have been reported.