Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

The Southern yellow-billed Hornbill is one of my favorite local birds.  They are noisy, cheeky and have so much character – great birds to watch for hours on end.  In our area, and especially in the Kruger National Park, they are very common and are often seen pinching food from unwary tourists.  We have one mating pair that live close to our cottages and although they don’t come too close, I hear them often.

The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a Hornbill found in Southern Africa. It is a medium sized bird, with length between 48 to 60 cm, characterized by a long yellow beak with a casque (casque reduced in the female). The skin around the eyes and in the malar stripe is pinkish. The related Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill from north-eastern Africa has blackish skin around the eyes.

They have a white belly, grey neck, and black back with abundant white spots and stripes. They feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. Termites and ants are a preferred food source in the dry season.

Females lay 3 to 4 white eggs in their nest cavities and incubate them for about 25 days. While sitting on her eggs the female hornbill is closed into the nest by the male using mud to close the nest hole.  The male then brings food to the female and feeds her through a tiny slit that he leaves open. Juveniles take about 45 days to mature.

This hornbill is a common, widespread resident of the dry thorn fields and broad-leafed woodlands. Frequently they can be sighted along roads.

Last night at art group I decided to start a new painting and chose this bird to paint. I have started the background with acrylic and plan to finish off the finer details in oils.  Again you will be able to follow me step by step.


10 thoughts on “Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

  1. God has definitely a good sense of humour! What a bird, thanks for the smile – who could NOT like this bird! I look forward to following your progress with the painting.


  2. This is an interesting read as I my co-supervisor for my Masters degree was based in Kruger doing research for national parks and is also a keen birder. Will have to get him to check out this post.


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