Wow! did you see that!! My first quick glimpse of a Hornbill as we drove down the main street at Victoria Falls. My heart sank, thinking that this would be my one and only chance of seeing a Hornbill and here I was stuck on a courtesy bus travelling from our accommodation to the local market stalls.
There are many beautiful birds in Africa and the Hornbill was one of the top birds that I really wanted to see. As a newbie to Africa, I naively thought that was my one and only chance to see these beautiful birds. I could not have been more wrong.
It would not take me long to realise that this beautiful and unique bird would be scattered among the many mosaics of Africa, in varying shapes and forms. Hornbills are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly coloured and sometimes have a helmet like structure on their upper mandible.
Let me introduce you to the characters:
The Southern Yellow Billed Hornbill
Known to the locals as “Flying Bananas” due to their distinctive yellow banana shaped beaks.
The Southern Ground Hornbill.
This is the largest of all the Hornbills, with stunning red features on their heads and necks. They forage on the ground, where they feed on reptiles, frogs and insects and mammals up to the size of hares.
Von Der Decken’s Hornbill
Von der Decken’s Hornbill , found in areas East of the East African Rift. Located mainly in thorn scrub and similar arid habitats. Featured here is the male with flashes of red on his beak.
This Hornbill is a common resident of the tropical evergreen forests of Africa, where it feeds on fruits and large insects.
Male and Female Trumpeter Hornbills – Masai Mara
Red Billed Hornbill
Known to the locals as the Red Chilli Pepper due to his beautiful red curved beak.
I could not have been more wrong on my very first sighting, fearing that I would only have a fleeting glimpse of a Hornbill. They continued to amaze me as they adorned the trees, surveyed the ground and glided through the air. The Hornbill is just one of the many beautiful and incredible birds of Africa, always a pleasure to see.