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African Grey Hornbill

African Grey Hornbill
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-10
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 400
Exposure: f/4.5, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Kruger NP 2009
Theme(s): Kruger National Park 2, Birds of South Africa 3, Birds of Africa I [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-01-10 8:41
Viewed: 9210
Points: 68
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
African Grey Hornbill / Tockus nasutus

The African Grey Hornbill is the 2nd bird in the series I am planning to share with you for the next couple of weeks; I started with the Trumpeter Hornbill which turned out to be the 1st of its kind on the site. Please take note that I do not intent to add the link of previous images in this series to each new postings note, as it will become to long. There are really plenty of images I am planning to share and if you wish to follow the series, please take a look at the previous posting(s) in my portfolio. Enjoy!

This bird was photographed near Tshokwane at the Mantimahle Dam where it was sitting in one of the beautiful trees, growing alongside the N'watindlopfu River, which so much forms part of the Park as does its animals. In time I'll still share some of the variety of impressive trees which I have photographed as well.

The African Grey Hornbill is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Bucerotidae bird family group which includes birds such as typical hornbills. It was first called the Grey Hornbill. It is neither endemic or near endemic to the Kruger National Park. It is however a common resident and can be seen in all areas of the Park. The height of the bird is about 48cm and its weight is about 165 grams. The male has physical features that are slightly different from the female bird.The head is coloured grey, while the bill is black. It has a grey throat, black legs and brown coloured back. The eyes are dark red.

Feeding Habits
It forages mainly on the ground or at the base of trees, and low down in the shrubs eating mostly fruits and seeds. This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .The bird attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten.

Breeding Habitat and Nesting Habits
The nesting habit which is similar for most hornbills are of particular interest .Mating pairs of the Hornbills inspects potential nesting sites (holes in tree trunks) together. A good nesting hole will preferably face north out of the direct prevailing winds and to get good access to heat from the morning sun. Once approved the base of the hole will be lined, by the female, with dry leaves or bits of bark. In preparing to lay eggs inside the nest the female will close up the entrance hole using its own faeces until only a slit is left open through which the male can bring food to the female.

Eggs are normally layed after the first good rains and about 5 days after the female has secured herself in the nest. It seems a high percentage of these nesting birds have access to a bolt or escape hole at some position higher than the nesting floor level or incubation chamber. While inside the nest, the female uses the opportunity to moult all its feathers (all birds do moult but normally on a piece-meal basis and not as aggressively as the hornbills do). The moulting feathers also create extra nesting materials for the fledgling chicks.

A typical clutch of eggs is 4 layed over a period of days and the chicks hatch in the order the eggs are laid. As the young develop they learn to squirt their droppings through the slit entrance to the nest. The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is between 3-4 weeks old and the chicks reseal the nest.

There are normally 2 broods of youngsters raised a few months apart. It is unusual for more than 2 chicks to survive and learn to forage with their parents. The preferred habitats for African Grey Hornbill are woodlands, grasslands and riverine areas. You will not see these birds in flocks. The bird prefers to act singly or in pairs.

Names of this avian species in other languages
Afrikaans ... Grysneushoringvoël
German ... Grautoko
Portuguese ... Calau-cinzento
French ... Calao bec noir
Dutch ... Grijze Tok


I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

nglen, Mamagolo2, marius-secan, CeltickRanger, zulfu, smitha, anel, albert, Argus, siggi, Dis. Ac., eng55, sranjan, boreocypriensis, xTauruSx, rousettus, anemone, uleko, maurydv has marked this note useful
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To delpeoples: HealthMiss_Piggy 1 01-18 06:26
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2010-01-10 8:46]

Hi Anna. Firstly thank for the interesting notes to go with this fine looking picture of the African Grey Hornbill . Which youhave taken with sharp focusing and fine detail in the feathers. Taken with natural looking colours. TFS.

Hi Anna,
Once again I stand in awe of your photography skills. You just know how to take them, specially your bird photo's. I love the detail and clearness of the bird and the color stands out against the green background. Stunning image. Thank you for your valuable notes it really makes for interesting reading. When we were children we used to call them "onderbroek voels), because of the feathers on their legs that looked like old time long johns. Very well done and thanks for sharing.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-01-10 10:07]

Hello Anna,
Very nice photo of this African Grey Hornbill from a good POV and in an attractive pose. Beautiful natural colours with a nice contrasting BG. Excellent sharp focus with very good details.

hello Anna
o other super picture of this very nice bird
great details and beautiful colour with good sharpness
nice pose in the tree
greeting lou

  • Great 
  • cloud Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 497 W: 111 N: 1535] (9539)
  • [2010-01-10 11:10]

Hello Anna,
I have sentiment for native birds but like to see also exotic birds. I don't know if this species saw whenever. Very good sharpness, nice blurred BG.
Regards, Pawel

Hello Anna,
Very nice composition with wonderful details and vivid colours. Superb sharpness and amazing clarity.

great contrasty pic, perhapsd a little too sharpened, TFS Ori

hello Anna

excellent close-up photo of the African Grey Hornbill, fine POV
and appropriate framing, fine focus sharpness and details, TFS


  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2010-01-10 15:14]

Hello Anna, superb shot of this cute bird from nice point of view with nice composition and details.
TFS and G's,

  • Great 
  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2010-01-10 22:40]

Hello Anna,
Seems like all these beautiful birds were busy posing for you.:)
Beautiful picture, taken with good sharpness, details in the plumage and DO.The bird clearly stands out against the lovely gren background.
Thanks for the share,

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2010-01-10 22:48]

Hi Anna

Great use of the frame - you have caught what I think of as 'the distainful glance' of the hornbill perfectly.

Nice detail too.

Best wishes


We are now in Dakar - going to sack the guide when he arrives this morning!

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-01-11 1:08]

Hello Anna,
The different kind of Hornbills are just impressive for us European. We never see this kind of birds flying around. I think we just would stay there with open mouth. I like the pose you caught, ideal from behind, showing the beautiful plumage and the head shown from the side. What a special and beautiful beak too. The color-combination is also beautiful.
The picture might be a little bit over-sharpened.
Thanks also for the interesting note.
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2010-01-11 2:39]

Beautiful composition and excellent background. The bird looks just great with details and fine pose too. tfs.

Hello Anna,
A very good photo of this Grey Hornbill, great focus with good plumages'details, I like the green BG too

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-01-11 6:50]

Hello again Anna,
This is a great portrait of the Grey Hornbill, a species that I have photographed in Gambia before photography became digital.
Here the pose and POV combine to present its features with excellent sharpness, colours and contrast against the green foliage of the OOF BG and the composition is perfect.
Thanks for this fine reminder,
Best wishes,

Wow, Anna, I just love your bird collection. Nice seeing this bird up close. The detail in the feathers and the sharpness are exceptional, you should consider a bird book or bird calendar!
Well done!

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-01-11 10:39]

Hello Anna,
Interesting POV and composition, your DOF and focus is very good too. This is a very eye catching looking bird, well caught!
Best regards Siggi

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-01-11 15:24]

Hi Anna,isn't easy to comment fantastics and spectaculars pics of species like that,so strange for us and so beautifuls...very interesting note and top quality of sharpness and colors,have a nice day and thanks...Luciano

Hello Anna, you are lucky to see al those birds an animals in real, I know these from the zoo.
You captured it wel with good details and fine colours.


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-01-11 21:52]

Hi Anna,
Very nice capture of this Hornbill.I liked his look,BG,3D effect and pose of bird a lot.Have a nice day!
Thanks for posting..

Hi Anna,

Did not know Loot's better half was such an excellent photographer. Really well composed and framed photograph. A nice clean perch and great seperation from the nice OOF background. Well exposed with nice sharp detail. I have only observed Hornbill species in the zoo. They are amazing looking birds. Very well done!


Hello Anna,
I do agree with many. Very nice composition with fantastic minutiae and vibrant green background where the bird stands out very well. Outstanding details, sharpness and astounding precision.TFS

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2010-01-12 13:08]

Hello Anna,
first of all ... How are you?
I hope with all my heart for you. i wish with all my heart speedy recovery.
And now about the picture. This play with this beautiful bird which I have never seen before. Beautiful details with a description of the top.
Best thoughts,

Hi Anna,

Absolutely stunning image. The clarity and details are first class, as is the focus and exposure. Great notes too.
A truly impressive job MF.
TFS and have a nice day!


Ciao Anna, great capture of fantastic bird, I never see before, thanks, fine details, splendid natural colors and excellent sharpness, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

Hello again Anna, great shot of this huge-billed bird in nice pose with excellent composition.
TFS and regards,

Hello Anna
nice to see another Hornbill species from famous birds from Africa with your great capture. It looks very beautiful against green BG. sharp focus, eyes contact, POV/DOF and composition great. nice to read your informative and good notes.
thanks for sharing and my special thanks for your nice critiques and kind words on my posts.
best regards and have a nice weekend,

Simplemente espectacular y bello Anna. Es una especie que de por sí ya nos llama la atención ya que es totalmente diferente a las aves que conocemos en Europa. La captaste con habilidad y desde un inusual ángulo que le da atractivo. Buena luz y colores naturales.
Saludos y buen fin de semana: Josep Ignasi.

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2010-01-16 7:00]

Hi Anna,
indeed very well captured shot here. The pattern of the feather is excellently shown in very details. The lush green background is so beautifully controlled to give a nice smooth bokeh.
i like the bird's pose too, very cute and special.
Nice composition and excellent presentation.
A lot can be learned from your shot here.


Hi Anna
Lovely and excellent shot of this hornbill.
Thanks for sharing and best regards.

Hi Anna, amazing bird, with its distinctive beak. Your Note is so comprehensive and informative. His plummage is stunning and you've captured every beautiful feather of it. Congratulations, he's an impressive bird. Have a beautiful day, Lisa (PS thought reading dedications and critiques I hope you do;t mind me wishing you all the best with your health)

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-01-18 6:50]

Hello Anna,
I was in a rush before going away and am sorry to have overlooked this great capture of the African Grey Hornbill. It is a fantastic bird and I like the way you show it from behind with its head turned! Details are very sharp and it stands out so nicely against the natural background. Beautiful colours too! Very well done!
TFS and cheers, Ulla

Dear Anna
I was truly looking forward the see latest additions to your portfolio - and had no hesitation - which one to chose!

In the 22 years I have been in the Lowveld 10 of which in the bush, I have never seen an African Grey Hornbill! And I am surprised to read about flocks of up to 30!?!

Actually, we seem to see less and less Yellow-billed Hornbills in our garden, and I wonder if they are served for dinner?!?

I must admit, the descriptions of bird calls in Bird Books always leave me baffled i.e. I have no clue what sound a particular bird is producing.

Your stay in Kruger was really fruitful - and I bet - you have fun sorting through all your photos. I find it always tantalising to decide which ones to erase...

I see with astonishment, that you sat in a tree to get this shot!!! I would NEVER climb a tree in the Lowveld, even if my tree climbing days were not over: I am too terrified of snakes; or does Loot sit on the ground with a catapult?

I can really say nothing about your perfect photographic technique not said before me by other admiring members.

I hope, that you are soon able to climb again trees - according to Loot - you can kick already :-))

Have a nice evening,
warm greetings also to Loot

Hallo Anna,
a splendid capture of the African Grey Hornbill in a lovely pose, superb sharpness and fine detail on the feathers, beautiful colours, excellent dorsal POV and nice composition
Best regards

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