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Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by AndyS56
Damaraland, Namibia, March 2016
Tockus leucomelas


Photo © by Ornitho26
Pilanesberg, South Africa

48 to 60 cm (19-23½ in)

  • Long yellow beak
    • Male has a casque
  • Bare red skin around eyes and malar stripe
  • White belly
  • Grey neck
  • Black back covered with white spots and stripes


This hornbill is a common, widespread resident of the dry thorn-veld and broad-leafed woodlands of inland southern Africa (western and southern Angola, southern Zambia, northern Namibia, Botswana, north-central and north-eastern South Africa, Zimbabwe, western and southern Mozambique, and eSwatini).


There are two subspecies[1],[2] based mainly on differences in the intensity of the plumage and bare parts colour, and size[3]:

Subspecies parvior is no longer considered valid.

Recognition of T. l. elegans as a separate species may be justified[3] or it may not even be a valid subspecies[4].


Dry Acacia and broad-leafed woodlands. Frequently they can be sighted along roads.



The clutch consists of 3 to 4 white eggs usually laid in a natural cavity in a tree trunk. Incubation lasts for or about 25 days. Juveniles maturing after about 45 days.


They feed mainly on the ground foraging for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. They also eat small vertebrates, eggs, fruit, seeds and young leaves. Termites and ants are a preferred food source in the dry season.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v 11.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.11.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Kemp, A. C. and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sybhor1.01

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1