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Von Der Decken’s Hornbill

Tockus deckeni


Bucerotidae, hornbill family

Conservation Status:

Least concern, IUCN


East Africa


Thorn scrub


In all hornbills, the bill is an integral part of its skull, which is fastened to upper vertebrae that are fused. This is unique among birds.

This is a small species of hornbill with a 15 inch wingspan. It has mainly whitish under parts and head and blackish upper parts. It has a long tail and a long curved bill which lacks a casque. Sexes are similar, but the female has a black bill, whereas the male’s bill is red and cream. Von der Decken’s hornbills are omnivorous. Insects are the most important food source. They feed mainly on the ground and will form flocks outside the breeding season. They will also eat fruit, seeds, snails, mice, nesting birds, lizards and tree frogs.

During incubation the female lays two or three white eggs in a tree hole, which is blocked off with a cement made of mud, droppings and fruit pulp. There is only one narrow aperture, just big enough for the male to transfer food to the mother and the chicks. When the chicks and the female are too big to fit in the nest, the mother breaks out and rebuilds the wall, then both parents feed the chicks.

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