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Red-billed Hornbill and Thorns | by Susan Roehl
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Red-billed Hornbill and Thorns

Masai Mara National Reserve

Kenya

East Africa

  

The red-billed hornbills are a group of hornbills found in savanna and woodland of sub-Saharan Africa. They are now usually split into five species, the northern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), western red-billed hornbill (T. kempi), Tanzanian red-billed hornbill (T. ruahae), southern red-billed hornbill (T. rufirostris) and Damara red-billed hornbill (T. damarensis), but some 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 for the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall. Then both parents feed the chicks.

 

They are omnivorous, taking insects, fruit and seeds. They feed mainly on the ground and will form flocks outside the breeding season.

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Taken on January 16, 2015