The ground hornbill is a bird found in Africa. There are two species. These include the Abyssinian ground hornbill and southern ground hornbill. The southern ground hornbill is the most common. It is a large African bird. You can spot it in southern Africa. It is the size of a turkey. It can weigh up to 6 kg. Its throat, neck, and face are red. The bill is black. You will find a blue mark on the throat of the female.
This is one of the Southern ground hornbill male and female differences. The Abyssinian ground hornbill is in farther north of Africa. You can find it in Ethiopia, Guinea, and Senegal. Ground hornbill spends most of their time on the ground. This is where they spend time walking slowly and hunting. Today, we focus on 5 fascinating facts about the ground hornbill. Let’s learn more about the largest hornbill in the world. This will give you a greater reason to visit Africa.
- They are monogamous
One of the 5 fascinating facts about ground hornbills is that they are monogamous. They tend to form lifelong bonds. This is a common behavior, especially among the breeding pairs. Mating seasons vary from one region to another. In Kenya, breeding occurs in November. In Uganda, it occurs in January. In West Africa, it occurs between June and August.
Other birds assist breeding pairs. This Southern ground hornbill behavior is called cooperative breeding. This is also common among the Abyssinian ground hornbills. Other hornbills protect the breeding pairs.
Males prepare the nests in old trees. They use dry leaves to make comfortable nests. Then, female ground hornbills lay 1 to 3 eggs. Abyssinian ground hornbills tend to lay 1 to 2 eggs. This may happen in 5 days. The females nurtures these eggs for about 40 to 45 days.
Only one chick tends to survive. Incubation starts with one egg. This means that one egg will hatch earlier. This chick also grows faster than the other one. The second chick often dies of hunger. A newly hatched chick may weigh about 70 grams. Parents ensure that the chick is well protected. They also provide food for about 3 years.
- Mostly, they communicate using sounds
Ground hornbills communicate visually but mostly use sounds. Early in the morning, their calls in the chorus are heard about 3 km away. They use booming calls to communicate with each other. When they want to hunt difficult prey, they call each other. After gathering in groups, they attack the prey. Female ground hornbill sounds are higher than males. This is one of the Southern ground hornbill male and female differences.
They can communicate as an individual or in groups. This is among the 5 fascinating facts about the ground hornbill. An individual bird can make a sound to ask for food. The bird providing food may also make sounds as they approach. They can also make sounds as a group. This occurs when they are giving location updates. This is an amazing Southern ground hornbill behavior.
- They are omnivorous
Ground hornbills are omnivorous. Mostly, they eat invertebrates. These include spiders, lizards, and snakes. They eat amphibians. They eat larger prey such as tortoises and hares. Small animals lay low in the presence of these birds. After all, they snap up on almost anything. Sometimes, they supplement their diet with seeds and fruits.
- They have longer eyelashes
Ground hornbills have very long eyelashes. Some humans are envious of these eyes. It is one of the 5 fascinating facts about the ground hornbill. They use their eyelashes to protect their eyes from sunlight and dirt.
- They are the longest-lived birds
Ground hornbills are the longest-lived birds in the world. They have lived in captivity for up to 70 years.
Threats To The Ground Hornbill
Ground hornbills are vulnerable to extinction. Researchers say that the number of birds has reduced by at least two-thirds. This means that their number is quickly declining. Their global population is not known. It is hard to count. They are most endangered in Swaziland and Lesotho. Their number is decreasing. This is because of several factors. Pollution is destroying their habitats. Overuse of agricultural land is destroying their habitat. Other factors endangering them include commercial use of land, flooding, and poisoning. For example, in some parts of Africa, they are killed for destroying property. A reflection on mirrors or glass windows leads to property ruin. They see the reflection as an intruding bird. Then, they start attacking it, eventually breaking the glass. To prevent these losses, humans result to poisoning the birds.
Efforts are being taken to preserve these ground hornbills. Programs are re-introducing these birds. Research is being done on measures that can be used to protect the birds. Campaigns are being led to create public awareness. All these attempts are aimed at recovering ground hornbill populations. African countries including Kenya need to protect these birds. They need conservation measures to increase ground hornbills. This is considering their slow reproductive rates.
This post has listed 5 fascinating facts about the ground hornbill. You can find these amazing birds in savannahs and woodlands. You can spot them during your African safari. They are found only within Africa. You can find them in Kenya and South Africa and other African countries. You can reach out for more about the ground hornbill.