Southern Ground Hornbill | Birdlife | Wild Safari Guide

Meet the southern ground hornbill

Southern Ground Hornbill

The Southern ground hornbill is the largest hornbill species in the world and is found nowhere else in the world other than in Africa. It calls the woodlands and Savannahs of the continent home. The bird’s booming sound repertoire consists of a variety of distinguishable calls. A sharp grunt is for playing and fighting, juveniles and females use a begging call for food, and when danger lurks, an alarm call sounds.

Southern ground hornbills are notoriously poor breeders. Just between two and three eggs are laid with only one chick surviving the first couple of weeks due to competition for food. Around 70% of their chicks don’t make it to adulthood, with only one fledged every six years.

Various cultural uses have been attributed to this bird. It includes improving the ability to find food, altering perceptions of oneself, causing dreams to become a reality, and revenge on others. The Southern ground hornbill’s numbers have been declining for years, and the bird is classed as ‘Endangered’ in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, and Lesotho.

More birdlife in africa

The unmistakable sound of the African fish eagle is part and parcel of the call to visit the shores of the continent. No wonder it features as the national bird for various African countries.

Appearing on the postage stamps of several African countries, the yellow-billed stork occurs all across the continent south of the Sahara, as well as in Madagascar. Their favoured habitat is in and around water. 

The white-backed vulture is part of the Old World vultures that include hawks, kites, eagles, and buzzards. Soaring over the Savannahs and woodlands of Africa, its population is increasingly under threat.

The lilac-breasted roller, with an olive coloured crown and mantle, is indeed one of the perching pretties of Africa. Unofficially, it carries the status as the national bird of Kenya.

Popular destinations Across Africa

The Okavango Delta is the best place to spot special species such as the wattled crane, lesser jacana, slaty egret, herons, larks and babblers.

With the Kafue, Luangwa and Zambezi Rivers providing sustenance, beautiful birds like the African pitta and shoebill stork will be a thrill to the searching eyes of birders.

For those keen on records, Kenya provides the opportunity to spot more than 300 species in any given day—the record is 342 in 24 hours.

The pristine coastline is home to coastal migrant waders, while further afield the red and blue double collared sunbirds, mangrove kingfisher, tiny greenbul, and olive-headed weaver can be observed.

The Kruger National Park is indeed a birders paradise with more than 500 species, including various raptors and vultures as well as rare migrants such as Dickinson’s kestrel, Southern hyliota and Bohm’s spinetail. 

Curious Southern ground hornbill