Hornbill: Northern or Abyssinian ground hornbill
The IUCN scientists classify this as a species of least concern as it has good numbers across a wide area but locally this bird can be very scarce as it often shot as a pest and eaten.
These birds wander miles as a family group foraging for insects, snakes, other birds, amphibians and even tortoises. They will feed on carrion, as well as seeds, fruits and ground nuts.
Drier grasslands and savannah vegetation of Africa north of the equator.
A ground dwelling species both these the Northern (or Abyssinian) and the Southern are the only species of hornbill that are terrestrial. Family units have territories that can extend anything from 2 – 100 square miles depending on the food resource.
Cavity nest holes in fallen trees and rotting trunks with a good viewpoint (for safety) are selected and usually 1 offspring survives on average every 3-4 years!
One of the longest living (40 plus years in the wild) and potentially slowest breeding species of birds known (in the wild once every 2-3 years).
Ground hornbills have a throat pouch that can be blown up with air and released to make a booming call. In the northern species this is a distinctive blue pouch.
At The Zoo
We have a pair of these that have bred for the last 8 years or so. As far as we know this is the only pair of this species currently breeding in Europe at the moment! “Brutus and Bronte” are both hand reared individuals and although we get fertile eggs from the pairing they do not make good parents despite being given chances to learn so we hand rear their young!