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Red Billed Hornbill


Red Billed Hornbill Fast Facts

  • Location: Throughout Africa
  • Habitat: Grassland, Woodland
  • Lifespan: 15 Years
  • Diet: Beetles, Worms, Small mammals, Fruit
  • Length: 48 - 60cm
  • Weight: 180 - 270g


Meet Nsumi, our Red-billed hornbill. Does she look familiar? These birds are famous for starring as Zazu, the king's advisor in the Lion King. Hornbills were given their name by the local people, as their bill reminded them of a cattle's horn. These small hornbills are found in the woodlands and grasslands of Africa. There is very little difference between males and females, except females typically have smaller bills.



Hornbills are primarily insectivores, feasting on beetles, worms and locusts. They will also eat fruit and bulbs. Hornbills do not hunt alone. They team up with mongoose when hunting to act as look outs for predators. They will wait for the mongoose each morning before heading out to find food.



Hornbills nests are unique. The parents choose a nest cavity and then close the entrance with mud with the female inside. A small slit is left, allowing the male to pass food to the female and chicks. By sealing them inside, it protects the chicks from predators. They lay 3-6 eggs, and the chicks wont leave the nest for 6 months.


Threats + Conservation

Red-billed hornbills are classified as LEAST CONCERN on the IUCN Red List. Their populations are well distrusted throughout their ranges however, some are hunted for food and the pet trade. Hornbills are often persecuted as they can thieve eggs when in close proximity to human settlements.


Fun facts

1. Red-billed hornbills are famous for playing Zazu in the Lion King. 2. The long bills are adapted for digging. 3. The first two neck vertebrate are fused together to support their large bills.


Red Billed Hornbill Gallery

Tockus erythrorhynchus


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