Everything You Need to Know About the Southern Ground Hornbill

The Southern Ground Hornbill is an endangered species and at Timbavati Safari Lodge they have put projects in place to protect this vulnerable species.

Everything You Need to Know About the Southern Ground Hornbill

The Southern Ground Hornbill is the largest species of the Hornbill family, it grows between 90 and 129 centimetres long. It is characterized by black and red patches of skin found on its face and throat. This beautiful bird also has feathers on its wings which are white at the tips, evident when the bird is flying. Another distinct feature of the Southern Ground Hornbill is their beaks, they are black, straight and have a helmet like structure which is more prominent in males. The female Southern Ground Hornbill is distinguished by its violet-blue skin and smaller size.


Southern Ground Hornbills can be found in Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Kenya. Their habitat is unique to the African continent, they require a savannah habitat with large trees and short grass for foraging. Due to their endangered status they are protected by national reserves and national parks.


As the title suggests these birds live in groups. The size of the groups range from five to ten birds. These birds are very vocal, their calls can be heard from a distance of up to three kilometres. Their calls allow each group to maintain their territories.


When the Southern Ground Hornbill’s tummy growls they are known to feast on reptiles, snails, insects, frogs and small mammals.


In captivity the Southern Ground Hornbill can live up to a maximum of 70 years and will reach maturity at around seven years of age but very few will breed at this early age. These African birds practise polyamory; with each breeding pair there are at least two other birds assisting them. They have the slowest reproductive rates amongst the bird species. They will produce one chick approximately every nine years. The female bird will lay up to three eggs of which are white in colour and have a rough surface. The bird will sit on the egg to enable incubation for forty to forty five days. Whilst the female sits on the eggs she will be fed by her mate and the other birds who form part of the group. Once the egg has hatched it will take eighty five days for the nestling to become completely independent. Juveniles are, however, dependent on their mothers for up to one year.


The Southern Ground Hornbill is a beautiful bird and we should do everything in our power to keep them from becoming extinct.