Trumpeter Hornbill

Bycanistes bucinator

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

Distribution: Sub-Equatorial Africa; north and north-east Angola and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo east to East Kenya, and from there south to northern Namibia and Botswana, Zimbabwe and eastern South Africa. 

Description: 50-55 cm. Male 607-941 g; female 452-670 g. Medium-sized hornbill with black plumage apart from all-white belly, rump, underwing coverts and tip of wings and tail. Bare skin around eyes is red. Bill and casque are black. Male has large and high casque extending to tip of bill with dark reddish-purple orbital skin; female is smaller and has smaller bill and short casque with yellowish base. Juvenile is similar to adult, but almost casqueless bill with brown-tipped feathers at base and on cheeks. 

Voice: The call is a loud nasal wailing nhaa nhaa ha ha ha ha. Also produces braying notes in flight.

Audio from xeno-canto


Habits: Found in tall, riverine and coastal evergreen forest as well as deciduous woodlands and montane forest up to 2,200 m elevation. Here it feeds mainly on a wide variety of fruits from at least 14 different genera, especially figs but also berries and drupes as well as cultivated varieties where available, such as papaya, mangoes and lychee. It feeds inside the dense foliage where it takes some animals, flying insects, caterpillars, millipedes, woodlice, crabs and small birds and nestlings. It is mainly resident but will roam widely in search of fruiting trees, sometimes flying at least 10 km across the savanna between patches of forest. It is most often found in pairs or family groups of 3-5 birds, but regularly gathers in small flocks of up to 48 birds; up to 100 birds may feed in the same general area. In the evening it gathers from as far as 15 km away to roost in flocks of up to 200 individuals; they roost in large trees, often near a river but also in gorges in remote dry deciduous forest. At dawn, the birds head out in pairs or in small groups in different directions to find fruiting trees