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African Grey Hornbill
(Tockus nasutus)

African Grey Hornbill

General description

At 46cm in length, this is a large bird, although it is one of the smaller hornbills.

It has mainly grey plumage except for the head, flight feathers and long tail which are a darker shade. There is a white line down each side of the head and one on the back which is visible only in flight.

The plumage of the male and female is similar, however immature birds are more uniformly grey.

The long curved bill is predominantly black in the male with a small casque and a creamy horizontal stripe below the casque.

The female's bill tip is red and the rest of the upper mandible is yellow.

Juveniles lack the casque on the bill.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Tockus nasutus

Common names:
African Grey Hornbill (English)
Grysneushoringvoƫl (Afrikaans)

Grey Hornbill

Roberts VII english name:
African Grey Hornbill

Roberts VII scientific name:
Tockus nasutus

Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Further information



The African Grey Hornbill is omnivorous, taking insects, seeds, fruit and sometimes small reptiles. It feeds mainly in trees.

The flight is undulating.

This conspicuous bird advertises its presence with its distinctive high-pitched call.

The female lays two to four white eggs in a tree hollow, which is blocked off during incubation with a cement made 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 female outgrow the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall, after which both parents feed the chicks.

Natural distribution:
The African Grey Hornbill is a widespread and common resident breeder in much of sub-Saharan Africa and into Arabia.

These birds prefer open woodland and savannah.

The similarly sized Red-billed Hornbill has uniformly grey plumage.

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