African Grey Hornbill ( Tockus nasutus, family: Bucerotidae) in the KNP


African Grey Hornbill Kruger ParkThe African Grey Hornbill (Latin name Tockus nasutus) is described in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition. This bird has a unique Roberts number of 457 and you will find a full description of this bird on page 155 also a picture of the African Grey Hornbill on page 160. The African Grey Hornbill belongs to the family of birds classified as Bucerotidae.

In the previous edition of Roberts (ie 6th edition) the African Grey Hornbill was called the Grey Hornbill

The map of the Kruger you see on this page shows the areas (coloured orange) where this bird has been identified. It is very common and can be seen in all areas of the Park.

african horn bill kruger national park birds The African Grey Hornbill is neither Endemic or near Endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common resident

Identification assistance for this avian species ...

The African Grey Hornbill is a bird about the size of a grey hornbill. The height of the African Grey Hornbill is about 48 cms and its weight is about 165 gms

You will find that the male African Grey Hornbill plumage and colours are different to that of the female African Grey Hornbill

  • Head is grey.
  • Eye is red.
  • Bill is black.
  • Throat is grey.
  • Back is brown.
  • Legs are black.

This bird has normally proportioned leg length.

Main diet items for this bird ...

The African Grey Hornbill feeds on the ground, on the wing and in foliage mainly



The nesting habit which is similar for most hornbills is of particular interest ...

Mating pairs of the Hornbills inspect potential nesting sites (holes in tree trunks) together. A good nesting hole will preferably face north out of the direct prevailing winds and to get good access to heat from the morning sun.

Once approved the base of the hole will be lined, by the female, with dry leaves or bits of bark. In preparing to lay eggs inside the nest the female will close up the entrance hole using its own faeces until only a slit is left open through which the male can bring food to the female.

Eggs are normally layed after the first good rains and about 5 days after the female has secured itself in the nest. It seems a high percentage of these nesting birds have access to a bolt or escape hole at some position higher than the nesting floor level or incubation chamber.

While inside the nest the female uses the opportunity to moult all its feathers (all birds do molt but normally on a piece-meal basis and not as aggressively as the hornbills do). The molting feathers also create extra nesting materials for the fledgling chicks.

A typical clutch of eggs is 4 layed over a period of days and the chicks hatch in the order the eggs are laid. As the young develop they learn to squirt their droppings through the slit entrance to the nest.

The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is between 3 and 4 weeks old and the chicks reseal the nest.

There are normally 2 broods of youngsters raised a few months apart. It is unusual for more than 2 chicks to survive and learn to forage with their parents.

The bird lays eggs which are white in colour and number between 2 to 5

Habitat and flocking behaviour for this bird ...

The preferred habitats for African Grey Hornbill are: woodlands and grasslands and riverine areas

You will not see African Grey Hornbill in flocks. The bird prefers to act singly or in pairs.

Names of this avian species in other languages ...

Xhosa ... Unknown

Zulu ... Unknown

Afrikaans ...Grysneushoringvol

German ... Grautoko

Portuguese ... Calau-cinzento

French ... Calao bec noir

Dutch ... Grijze Tok

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For in-depth birding information please refer to these authoritative avian references ...

Robert's 7th edition number ... 457

The main reference source for this data was "Roberts - Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition"