Southern Ground Hornbills
What Bird Breeds Once Every Nine Years and Lives to be 50 Years Old? That big black bird with the big red beak that walks with purpose and pride across the open area at Nkorho is the Southern Ground Hornbill. The largest member of the hornbills, these unique and very large birds live in small groups of around eight, with a dominant pair being the only breeders in the group. The others, usually insubordinate males related that are related, help to feed the single surviving chick that is hatched once every nine years. 9 years? Yes...unlike most other birds that breed at least once a year and have multiple hatchlings, the Southern Ground Hornbill raises only one chick and that young bird is dependent on the parents for 6-12 months. The Southern Ground Hornbill has a rather noble look, walking instead of hopping across the ground. He eats insects, small reptiles and mammals, but has a unique, perhaps obsessive habit as he collects food to take back to the nest. As this Hornbill makes his way around, he gathers the tasty bits in his beak. When he sees another morsel he wants to grab, he puts the beak full of food down on the ground,off to the side, then grabs the new one and puts it in the pile he’s already collected. He carefully rearranges them, and picks them all up again before moving on. While these birds can fly, they spend the majority of their lives on the ground, roosting at night in the trees, although territorial confrontations happen in the air. Take a look at our recent visit from these interesting characters as they hunt and peck for food.