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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 9:20 EDT

Southern Ground-hornbill

The Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is one of two species of ground-hornbill.

This large-sized bird measures between 90 and 129 cm and is characterized by black coloration and vivid red-colored face and throat patches (yellow in juvenile birds). The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another indicative characteristic. The beak is black, straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female Southern Ground Hornbills are smaller and present a blue stripe in the throat patches.

This bird’s habitat includes savannahs, woodlands and grasslands of north-east southern Africa. The Southern Ground Hornbill is a vulnerable species, mainly confined to national reserves and national parks. They live in groups of 5 to 10 individuals including adults and juveniles. Often, neighboring groups are engaged in aerial pursuits. They forage on the ground, hunting for their favorite meal: reptiles, frogs, snails, insects and small mammals. Juveniles are dependent of adults for 6 to 12 months.

The other species of the genus Bucorvus is the Abyssinian Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus), also known as Northern Ground-hornbill.

Southern Ground-hornbill