Von der Decken’s Hornbill

Tockus deckeni

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

Distribution: East Africa; from Ethiopia, Somalia south across Kenya to northern Tanzania. 

Description: 35 cm. Male 165-212 g; female 120-155 g. Bill and head features diagnostic; where they meet in the east Lake Turkana area, it can be recognized from Jackson’s Hornbill by smooth black wings. Small slender hornbill with pied plumage; male has broad reddish bill with outer half yellow. Female is smaller, with shorter bill and casque all-black. Juvenile has spotted wing coverts and smaller dark will with yellow patches. 

Voice: The call is a series of clucking notes wuk-wuk-wuk

Audio from xeno-canto


Habits: Occurs in savannah and open woodlands with thorny trees. It perches in the small savannah trees and drops down from there onto the ground to feed. It walks and runs to catch small animal prey, especially many invertebrates such as grasshoppers, crickets, mantids, beetles, cicadas, ants, termites, larvae, caterpillars and snails. It also takes vertebrate prey like tree frogs, lizards, young birds and mice. Vegetable food includes some fallen fruits and seeds; according to one survey 93% of food was taken on the ground; but it can occasionally perch high in the trees to pick fruits and berries. Like the Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, it regularly follows groups of Dwarf Mongooses in search of prey stirred up by the mammals who in turn benefit from the hornbills alarm calls when danger approaches. It is usually found in resident pairs or small family flocks, and it stays in the home range all year. It is territorial and sedentary and will only undertake occasional local moves during dry spells outside of the breeding season.