Appearance A large-sized bird of 19" (48cm). The male has a black bill with a cream streak on the upper mandible and diagonal lines on the lower one. The female features red on the mandibles. They are grey-brown above and on the neck & breast. The underparts are white. A long white superciliary stripe ends on the nape. Wing feathers have white edges. The eyes are red-brown coloured.
Habits Usually seen in pairs, calling to each other in a shrill, piercing call. The female lays 2 - 4 white eggs in a tree hollow. This is then covered with mud, droppings and fruit pulp, leaving a hole only large enough for the male to pass food to the mother and the chicks. When space becomes short, she leaves the nest, reseals it and both parents feed the chicks.
Diet It is an omnivore, eating insects, small reptiles and fruit.
Resident A Hornbill of open acacia woodland and savannah. Seen in the left half of Kenya and near the Ethiopia/Somalia border.
Extra Facts It has a habit of flying off the top of one tree, to the lower branches of another, then working its way to the top, prising bark up, to reveal insects beneath, which it picks up in the point of its beak, before throwing in the air, to catch and swallow. Having reached the canopy of the tree, it flies to the next - making photography very difficult.
Photographs Photographed in Kenya's Olara Orok Conservancy.