African Grey Hornbill


African grey hornbill

Scientific Name

Tockus nasutus


The African grey hornbill is one of the smaller members of the hornbill family.

Like all hornbills, it has a casque on its bill. It is believed that this casque enhances the bird’s vocal call, which is loud and piercing.

African grey hornbills build their nests in tree cavities. Whilst incubating her eggs, the female mostly seals off the entrance to the nest with a cement made from mud. The birds do this in order to protect their young from predators.

When the young grow too large for the nest, the female will break out of it, before re-building the nest; once again leaving just a small opening.

The male and female bird look similar but the male can be distinguished by its black bill. Conversely, the female has red-coloured mandible (upper bill).


African grey hornbills mostly eat insects, seeds, small vertebrates and amphibians.

Size Fact

They can weigh up to 250g.

Food Fact

In the wild, they gather around forest fires to catch the insects that flee the flames!

Fun Fact

Although the African grey hornbill’s casque is very big, it is made out of a light structure of keratin and is lighter than sponge!

IUCN Red list

Least concern.

Where do I live?

They can be found in central and southern Africa.

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