What is the difference between the African hornbills: Grey Hornbill, Red-Billed Hornbill, and Von der Decken’s Hornbill?
The Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus), the Red-Billed Hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus), and the Von der Decken’s Hornbill (Tockus deckeni) are all large African birds with a large downward curved beak.
The Grey Hornbill and the Red-Billed Hornbill are grey-brown, with black regions, whereas the Von der Decken’s Hornbill is black and white.
The male Grey Hornbill has a black beak with a cream patch on its maxilla (upper beak), and narrow pale lines on its mandible (bottom beak). The female Grey Hornbill has a large black beak with a dark red beak tip, with half of the maxilla (upper beak) a cream-yellow colour.
The Red-Billed Hornbill has an all-red beak. The male Von der Decken’s Hornbill has a large downward curved two-toned red and ivory-cream beak with a black tip. The female Von der Decken’s Hornbill has a large all-black beak.
They are similar in size – 45 centimetres (18 inches), with the Von der Decken’s Hornbill slightly larger at 50 centimetres (20 inches).
The Grey Hornbill and the Red-Billed Hornbill share the same regions: from Senegal in west Africa to Ethiopia in east Africa, down the eastern part of Africa, and into South Africa.
The Von der Decken’s Hornbill’s range is very limited and only from east Africa, from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya to northern Tanzania.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM