Wild Birds

African Pied Hornbills

The African Pied Hornbills (Tockus fasciatus) occur naturally in western central Africa.

Distribution / Range

They are resident (non-migratory) birds that are found in equatorial Africa – from the Gambia to western Uganda and northern Angola.

They mostly inhabit forests.

African Pied Hornbill, Tockus fasciatus

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Natural Range of the African Pied Hornbill, Tockus fasciatus, in blue


African Pied Hornbills measure about 54 cm in length – including the long tail.

The plumage is mostly black, except the white abdomen and tail tip.

The long curved black and yellow bill has a medium sized casque (a display growth on the upper mandible of the bill).

Males and females look alike, but the female has a smaller casque.

Juveniles have a duller plumage and smaller beaks. They lack the casque of the adults.

Their flight is described as a smooth wavelike motion.

Breeding / Nesting

African Pied Hornbills nest in tree cavities, the entrance of which they mostly close off with cement made of mud, droppings, and fruit pulp, while they are incubating the eggs inside. The purpose of this is to keep potential predators out of the nest.

The average clutch consists of two to four white eggs. The male feeds the female and young by transferring food through a narrow opening.

When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the female will break out and rebuild the wall, again only leaving a small opening. Both parents will feed the nestlings until they are independent.

Diet / Feeding

African Pied Hornbills mostly feed on fruit and insects. They typically forage in trees, and are often visiting Oil Palms.

Calls / Vocalizations

Their vocalizations are described as whistling pii-pii-pii-pii- calls.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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