Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus) is a species of hornbill found in savanna and woodland of sub-Saharan Africa. It is sometimes split into five species, the Northern Red-billed Hornbill (T. erythrorhynchus), Western Red-billed Hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzania Red-billed Hornbill (T. ruahae), Southern Red-billed Hornbill (T. rufirostris) and Damara Red-billed Hornbill (T. damarensis), but at present most authorities considered them all to be subspecies of a single species.
During incubation, the female lays three to six white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off with a plaster of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks.
When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall, then both parents feed the chicks.
The Red-billed Hornbill has a black stripe on the back of its head. The nominate subspecies shown on this photo has reddish ocular skin and dark eyes.
This species has mainly whitish underparts and head and grey upperparts. It has a long tail and a long curved red bill which lacks a casque. Sexes are similar, but the female has a smaller bill. It is a large bird, at 42cm in length, but is one of the smaller hornbills.
This species is omnivorous, taking insects fruit and seeds. It feeds mainly on the ground and will form flocks outside the breeding season.
This conspicuous bird also advertises its presence with its noisy accelerating tok-tok-tok-toktoktok call.
In popular culture
- Zazu is a character in the Animated Film The Lion King. He is also featured in the sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and the in-between-quel The Lion King 1 1/2.