Red Billed Hornbill

Red-Billed Hornbill

Scientific Classification

Common Name
red-billed hornbill
Genus Species
Tockus erythrorhynchus

Fast Facts

Red-billed hornbills have a thin, red bill and a pale head with a dark gray neck and white face. Their body is grayish brown with a white stripe down the center. They have a white belly, black and white spotted primaries, and a black tail. Males and females are similar in appearance, but males are slightly larger.
Adults can reach a 50 to 60 cm (19 to 24 in.) in length.
Adult birds weigh less than 0.50 kg (less than 1 lbs.).
These birds feed primarily on insects, but will also consume small lizards, eggs and nestlings. They are also known to scavenge on rodents.
The eggs hatch in 23 to 25 days; these birds lay 3 to 5 eggs
Life Span
These birds can live up to 15 years.
These birds can be found in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
This species can be found in dry forests, savannahs and shrublands in tropical and subtropical climates. They can be found at elevations up to 2,100 m (6,900 ft.).
The global population size has not been officially quantified, but the species is reported to be widespread and locally common.
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: No data
USFWS: No data

Fun Facts

Hornbills are unique because their first two neck vertebrae have been fused to support their large bill.

These birds will defend their territory against members of their own species, but they may have overlapping territories with other hornbill species.

These birds have an interesting parental strategy. The female seals herself into a tree cavity, leaving only a small slit through which the male provides food. The female molts and regrows her feathers during this time, then breaks out of the nest when the oldest chick is 21 to 22 days old. The chicks then reseal the entrance alone, using their droppings and food remains. Finally, the chicks fly from the nest, but remain with their parents for around six months.

When the chicks are older, the female breaks out to assist the male in providing food. The chicks do not leave the nest cavity until they are able to fly.

Ecology and Conservation

Their population is stable but they are vulnerable to habitat destruction.

These birds help control insect populations and are important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

There is no CITES legislation or specific protection for this species.


Austin, Oliver L. Birds of the World. New York: Golden Press, 1961.

Harrison, C.J.O., and Perrins, Christopher. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. New York: Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1987.

Kemp, Alan. The Hornbills. Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, Tokyo, 1995.

Perrins, Christopher M. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1990.

Prozesky, O.P.M. A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. London: Collins Clear Type Press, 1976.

BirdLife International 2016. Tockus erythrorhynchus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22725930A94906468. Downloaded on 07 November 2019.