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Southern Ground Hornbill

Hornbill, Southern Ground

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Description

The southern ground hornbill is 90-100 cm (37 inches) tall and weighs 3400-6000 g (about 10 pounds) for the male and 2200-4600 g (about 6.6 pounds) for the female. They have an impressive wingspan of about 122 cm (4 feet). They are the largest and heaviest hornbills; feathers are all black, with white primaries. The male has bare skin on his face and bright red inflatable throat skin. The female is similar but has a blue patch on her throat skin. Juveniles are browner than the adults, with pale grey-brown facial skin. The beak is straight and black, with a casque, an enlargement on the beak, more pronounced in the adults.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Bucerotiformes
Family
Bucerotidae
Genus
Bucorvus
Species
B. leadbeateri
Conservation Status
Vulnerable

Key Facts

Height
90-100 cm (37 inches)
Weight
2200-6000 g (6-10 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Bucorvus leadbeateri as Vulnerable. The species has a fairly widespread but sparsely populated across their range. Habitat loss coupled with the species’ low reproductive rate have contributed to an ongoing decline in the total population.

Social Life
Southern Ground Hornbills live in family groups of 2-8 individuals. They are terrestrial and do not migrate. The family group is very vocal, often making loud booming calls.

Habitat and Range
Southeastern Africa, including Kenya, Burundi, Northern Namibia and Botswana and northern South Africa. Inhabits woodlands and grasslands.

Diet
Southern ground hornbills are primarily carnivores. They eat insects, arthropods, frogs, toads, and occasionally larger prey such as snakes, tortoises, or small mammals such as squirrels. Southern ground hornbills live and hunt in a group, ranging in size from about 2-8 members. They kill their prey by striking it with their large heavy beak, which they use like a pickax.

Lifespan
About 70 years in captivity.

Predators
Young birds are vulnerable to carnivores and large snakes, however the protection provided by the family group reduces this vulnerability.

Reproduction
The dominant pair in the group breeds. The other members of the group assist the parents with feeding the chicks and defending their territory.
Sexual Maturity: 4-6 years.
Mating Season: September through December.
Incubation: 37-43 days.
No. of Young: The dominant female lays two eggs in a cavity in a large tree or rock face. The nest is lined with leaves. She is fed in the nest by the male and other family members. When the first chick hatches, it has pink skin, which turns black within 3 days. The second chick usually hatches about 3 days later. The family members feed the first chick and the female 4-9 times per day, bringing food to the nest in their beak. If the first chick does well, the second chick is left to starve, usually within a week. The chick fledges at about 86 days, and usually stays with the family group until it is mature. A study in South Africa showed that a family group successfully raises a chick to maturity on average once in 9 years.

Information

Description

The southern ground hornbill is 90-100 cm (37 inches) tall and weighs 3400-6000 g (about 10 pounds) for the male and 2200-4600 g (about 6.6 pounds) for the female. They have an impressive wingspan of about 122 cm (4 feet). They are the largest and heaviest hornbills; feathers are all black, with white primaries. The male has bare skin on his face and bright red inflatable throat skin. The female is similar but has a blue patch on her throat skin. Juveniles are browner than the adults, with pale grey-brown facial skin. The beak is straight and black, with a casque, an enlargement on the beak, more pronounced in the adults.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Bucerotiformes
Family
Bucerotidae
Genus
Bucorvus
Species
B. leadbeateri
Conservation Status
Vulnerable

Key Facts

Height
90-100 cm (37 inches)
Weight
2200-6000 g (6-10 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Bucorvus leadbeateri as Vulnerable. The species has a fairly widespread but sparsely populated across their range. Habitat loss coupled with the species’ low reproductive rate have contributed to an ongoing decline in the total population.

Social Life
Southern Ground Hornbills live in family groups of 2-8 individuals. They are terrestrial and do not migrate. The family group is very vocal, often making loud booming calls.

Habitat and Range
Southeastern Africa, including Kenya, Burundi, Northern Namibia and Botswana and northern South Africa. Inhabits woodlands and grasslands.

Diet
Southern ground hornbills are primarily carnivores. They eat insects, arthropods, frogs, toads, and occasionally larger prey such as snakes, tortoises, or small mammals such as squirrels. Southern ground hornbills live and hunt in a group, ranging in size from about 2-8 members. They kill their prey by striking it with their large heavy beak, which they use like a pickax.

Lifespan
About 70 years in captivity.

Predators
Young birds are vulnerable to carnivores and large snakes, however the protection provided by the family group reduces this vulnerability.

Reproduction
The dominant pair in the group breeds. The other members of the group assist the parents with feeding the chicks and defending their territory.
Sexual Maturity: 4-6 years.
Mating Season: September through December.
Incubation: 37-43 days.
No. of Young: The dominant female lays two eggs in a cavity in a large tree or rock face. The nest is lined with leaves. She is fed in the nest by the male and other family members. When the first chick hatches, it has pink skin, which turns black within 3 days. The second chick usually hatches about 3 days later. The family members feed the first chick and the female 4-9 times per day, bringing food to the nest in their beak. If the first chick does well, the second chick is left to starve, usually within a week. The chick fledges at about 86 days, and usually stays with the family group until it is mature. A study in South Africa showed that a family group successfully raises a chick to maturity on average once in 9 years.