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African Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasutus - Male

African Grey Hornbill - Tockus nasutus

The African Grey Hornbills (Tockus nasutus) occur naturally in the Old World.


Distribution / Range

These hornbill are common and widespread in n much of sub-Saharan Africa and western parts of Arabia, where they inhabit open woodland and savannah.

They are resident (non-migratory) within their natural range.

African Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasutus



African Grey Hornbills measure about 45 cm in length, including the long tail. They are large birds, but amongst the smaller hornbill species. Their flight is described as a smooth wavelike motion .

African Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasutusThe plumage is mostly grey, with the head, wings and tails being a darker shade. There is a white line down each side of the head and one on the back which can only be seen in flight.

The bill is long and curved, with a small casque (a display growth on the upper mandible of the bill) and a creamy horizontal stripe.

Males and females look similar. Although the male can be distinguished by his black bill, whereas the female has red on the mandibles (upper bill).

Immature birds are more uniformly grey.

Similar Species:

The Red-billed Hornbill has uniformly grey plumage.



African Grey Hornbills nest in tree cavities, the entrance of which they mostly close off with a 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 rebuilds the wall, again only leaving a small opening. Both parents will feed the nestlings until they are independent.


African Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasutus - Female


Diet / Feeding

These hornbills mostly feed on insects, fruit and reptiles. They typically forage in trees.


Calls / Vocalizations

Their vocalizations are described as piping pee-o pee-o pee-o calls.

African Grey Hornbill, Tockus nasutus


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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