Birding, Namibia

Cunene Birds: Monteiro’s Hornbill

Monteiro’s Hornbill – Tockus monteiri

Monteiro's Hornbill Monteiro's Hornbill_2

The Monteiro’s Hornbill is one of the bigger hornbill species found in Namibia at an approx. length of 54cm and 347grams.

The male and female are alike but the male does have a longer bill. They have white-spotted wing covers, white secondaries and extensive white on the tail.

Status: The Monteiro’s Hornbill is locally common and a nomadic rain-tracking species worldwide.
Food: Insects, vertebrates and fruit.
Call: They make deep, hoarse, clucking notes – sometimes in duet.
Breeding: They are monogamous. The Monteiro’s Hornbill breeds in arid, rugged, hilly and mountainous central and Northern Namibia. Pairs nest solitarily are widely dispersed, but adjacent nests may occur within 200m of each other.

Breeding occurs mostly in holes of rock faces, but where suitable trees are found, these will be used instead. Nest boxes, where they have been put up, are also readily used. Cavity sizes vary widely.

The breeding is very interesting as the female seals herself four to eleven days prior to breeding in a natural tree cavity or hole in a rock face leaving only a small hole for the male to feed her and the chicks. She uses her own faeces and material found in the nest to seal the hole. On day four she lays her first egg. The incubation of a 4 -5 egg cluster is about 25 days by the female only. The male will bring food at interval to the female and the chicks once they have hatched. It takes the chicks about 44 days before they are ready to fledge.

Source: Roberts Bird Guide, 2007
A Guide to Nests & Eggs of Southern African Birds, Warwick Tarboton, 2001
Photos: Copyright