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Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill

Bycanistes brevis
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Range: 
South-central to south-eastern parts of Africa, from Kenya to South Africa
Habitat: 
Trees of coastal, mountain and evergreen forests

The Silvery-cheeked Hornbill is black with white patches and a silvery grey head and neck. The large beak has a casque on top (larger in the males). Casque is the official name of a hollow chamber on top of the beak. The purpose of the casque is unknown. Casque is the official name of a hollow chamber on top of the beak.  One theory is that it amplifies the hornbill’s call. Another is that it helps to identify individuals in a flock.

The hornbill will spend its day with a mate or possibly a small group of hornbills. The flock re-convenes at night.  Hornbills eat whole fruit, which helps to spread seeds.  They also eat berries, nuts, insects, and small reptiles and vertebrates.

The female will lay her eggs in a hollow tree, rock or soil. Typical clutches have 1 to 3 eggs. The female will remain in the hollow while she and her mate seal her in. The male brings food and passes it through a small hole while the female incubates the eggs, typically for 30 to 40 days. The chicks and mother remain sealed inside for a month, after which the mother breaks out to help the male find food to feed the growing chicks. The chicks will begin to fledge at 80 days old.