Red-billed hornbill

(Tockus erythrorhynchus)


Red-billed hornbill IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The red-billed hornbill is a small hornbill species, 42-40 cm long, without a casque, which can easily be distinguished of its close relative Tockus flavirostris by its bill, which is somewhat smaller and red-coloured, except at the base of the lower mandible, which is black. The iris is yellow and the legs are dark brown. Sexes look alike, young birds have shorter bills and buffy spots on their wing-coverts

It is a common species of savanna woodlands with larger trees. It may enter villages and rest camps in conservation areas and become very tame.
br> Breeding occurs from October to January. 3-6 white and pitted eggs are laid in a tree hole. Like other hornbills, the red-billed hornbill has an interesting parental strategy. The female seals herself into a tree cavity, leaving only a small slit through which the male provides food. The female molts and re-grows her feathers during this time, then breaks out of the nest when the eldest chick is 21-22 days old. The chicks then reseal the entrance alone, using their droppings and food remains. Finally, the chicks fly from the nest, but remain with their parents for six months.

The diet of the red-billed hornbill consists mainly of insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, and larvae of all kind of species. Also fruit and bulbs are eaten

Did you know?
that red-billed hornbills cooperate with socials mongoose species in foraging and predator avoidance? The hornbills will forage along with the mongooses, eating the same things, and sometimes competing with the mongooses, although they usually do not steal food from them. The mongooses benefit from the warning calls that the hornbills give when a raptor is near. Thus, the mongooses can forage in relative peace, and tend to post fewer guards when the hornbills are around. The birds even give warning calls for sightings of animals that are predators of the mongooses but not the hornbills themselves.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Tockus erythrorhynchus
Name (English) Red-billed hornbill
Name (French) Calao Ć  bec rouge
Name (German) Rotschnabeltok
Name (Spanish) Toco de pico rojo
Local names Afrikaans: Rooibek neushoringvoƫl
seTswana: Khokhoropo
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Subsaharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia. Vagrants also in Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.
Habitat Savanna woodlands
Wild population Unknown. Most be very large (2001) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 97 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Red-billed hornbill


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 13 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Photo Copyright by
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Why do zoos keep this animal

The red-billed hornbill is not a threatened species buit it is of considerable educational interest and it is an excellent ambassador species