Animal Facts

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Scientific Name: Bucorvus abyssinicus

Fast Fact:

Abyssinian ground hornbills have voluminous eyelashes to keep dirt and debris out of their eyes.

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill

Abyssinian ground hornbills, also called Northern ground hornbills, are one of two species of ground hornbills (the other being the Southern ground hornbill). With their long legs, they prefer walking over flying, and they eat any small creatures that may cross their path through the African plains.

STATUS: The Abyssinian ground hornbill is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

HABITAT: Abyssinian ground hornbills live in the sub-Saharan African plains north of the equator.

DIET: Abyssinian ground hornbills consume insects, tortoises, lizards, carrion, small amphibians, mammals and birds. They occasionally eat fruits and berries as well.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Abyssinian ground hornbills stand about three feet tall and weigh around nine pounds. They are black with colored throats; males have red throats while females have blue throats. The casque on the beak, the helmet-like process usually make of keratin that is a characteristic of all hornbills, is fairly high with a yellow spot at the base. Blue skin surrounds the Abyssinian ground hornbills’ eyes. They have very long legs, which are beneficial to foraging through tall brush.  Hornbills have an average lifespan of 35-41 years.

Dynamic Duo

Abyssinian ground hornbills usually travel in pairs, but trios and quartets exist if juveniles are included. When it is time to mate, they engage in courting behavior like beak tapping. The male builds a nest in the cavity of a tree trunk or stump out of leaves, mud and debris. A female lays one or two eggs and incubates them for 37-41 days. Most hornbills construct walls to enclose the female in the nest during incubation; however, ground hornbills do not engage in this behavior. The nest remains open during incubation, and females emerge daily for preening and excretion; the male brings the female food, though. If two chicks hatch, the younger one is usually ignored or even eaten by the parents or elder chick. The female remains in the nest with her young for a week after hatching then joins the male in providing food for the young. The chick leaves the nest after approximately three months. Nests are permanent under favorable environmental conditions, and Abyssinian ground hornbills usually mate for life.

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