ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences

African Landscapes from South Africa: The Birds-Hornbills

Updated on July 25, 2015

Southern African Birds

There are about 950 different bird species in Southern Africa. Ten are known as Hornbills and it is obvious why.

Crowned Hornbill
Crowned Hornbill | Source
Ground Hornbill in Kruger Game Reserve
Ground Hornbill in Kruger Game Reserve | Source
Red-billed Hornbill
Red-billed Hornbill | Source
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill | Source
Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill | Source
Big Yawn
Big Yawn | Source

Look at that nose!


If there is one kind of bird that typifies the African Wilderness it is the family of birds called Hornbills. Their cry is easy to recognize, their irregular flight pattern unique, and their long, large beaks unmistakable.

They are monogamous (one partner usually for life) and the female breeds in a hole in a tree that is cemented closed with mud, allowing just a small hole for the male to feed her. The chicks are altricial (dependent of parents for food and heat).

There are ten species of Hornbill in Southern Africa including the Ground Hornbill. Three are found in the Eastern Cape; the Ground Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill and Crowned Hornbill. We have enjoyed visits of the Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbill in our garden over the years and earlier this week were thrilled to have a Crowned Hornbill feeding in a flower bed outside our lounge, providing a great photographic opportunity.

A visit to any of the Game Reserves in South Africa will be certain to present close up views of the local species of Hornbill along the road and even in the camps and picnic spots. They become used to looking for food in the camps that often have many fruiting trees and even scavenge for scraps in the area. They become quite tame and approach people with little fear.

No wonder the producers of the great Walt Disney classic Lion King casted Zazu a Hornbill as the right hand bird to Mafasa, Simbas Dad. He enjoyed a starring role and even singing some of the Elton John songs.

Southern Ground Hornbill.

Called “Bromvoel” in Afrikaans (Grunting) after its deep booming call it is by far the largest of the Hornbills and looks somewhat like a turkey. These large birds move about in small groups and are territorial, chasing away neighboring groups. Their territory is estimated to be about 20 square kilometers in the more densely populated areas like near Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. They move together in a group across the veldt foraging for food that includes insects, frogs, snails, snakes and even small animals. In the Game reserves they will often move along next to the road at a fairly fast pace. They have been killed at times in tribal aresa by Sangomas for “muti” to bring rain. They have also been persecuted because of their habit of damaging vehicles in attacking their own reflection with their strong beaks in defending their territory. About 1500-2000 is estimated to be the present population.It is interesting to note that these birds do not drink water but rather gets moisture from the food they eat

Trumpeter Hornbill.

This relatively small Hornbill, about the size of a Crow lives in the forest where it feeds on fruit and insects. Hops around in the trees in groups of five or six and can be seen in our area flying to and from their roosting area in the evening and morning. Their call is a loud laughing, crying, wailing one, that can be mistaken for a child crying in distress.

Crowned Hornbill.

The other Hornbill that is found in the Eastern Cape is called “Gekroonde Neushoringvoel” in Afrikaans which translate means “Crowned nose horn bird”, a good descriptive name. Usually found in pairs and frequents thorn thickets, Savannah and dense woodland. Its food is mainly fruit but also eats snails, seeds and small birds. They fly with a dip in between every few wing beats and can be easily identified by their large red casqued bill.

The Other Hornbills.

In order to see the rest of the Hornbills one has to travel to the Northern parts of South Africa and even further north. The Silverycheeked Hornbill is found mainly in Zimbabwe and Mozambique and may just with a bit of luck be found in the Pafuri area of the Kruger National Park in the North/East corner of the country.

The Grey, Southern Yellowbilled and Redbilled Hornbills are also found in the countries to the north but are also common residents in the northern parts of South Africa in the savannah, thornveld and woodland areas.

Bradfield’s and Monteiro’s Hornbill resides to the North West and one would have to travel to Namibia and Zambia in order to add them to your life list. In fact it would be quite an achievement to be able to list all ten of this family of birds.A visit to the Kruger National Park for a couple of days would assure one of seeing 4/5 different kinds.

If you have not watched the Lion King do yourself a favor and do so, You are bound to fall in love with the Hornbill Zazu, with the great voice and sense of humor. The movie is also a good commentary on Africa in general, on both the human and environmental level.

Source: Robers' Birds of South Africa:7th Edition

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Watched the movie again and liked the Hornbill.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      The hornbills sound wonderful, and they are so distinctive. I have seen the Lion King, and I wondered about Zazu. Thanks again, Johan.

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 4 years ago from East London, South Africa

      You are lucky to have such a great birding venue at your home.

    • Gill Harris profile image

      Gill Harris 4 years ago from South Africa

      I am always amazed at the variety of calls these creatures seem to have. It is almost like they imitate other birds. I often get the hornbills and kingfishers confused when listening to their calls. They share a similar piiip, piiip, which always aounds rediculous coming from such large birds. They a lot of fun to have around!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)