Southern ground hornbill

Bocorvus leadbeateri


The Southern ground hornbill is a tall, long-legged terrestrial bird native to South Africa. These massive predatory birds - the largest of hornbill species -  are capable of capturing hares and driving eagles away from their prey.

Behavior and facts

  • The Southern ground hornbill resides in open woodlands, savanna, and lightly wooded grasslands.
  • Its diet consists mainly of insects, but it will also eat amphibians, small reptiles, mammals and birds.
  • Primarily monogamous, during breeding season males inflate internal air sacs and let out a series of deep booming sounds to attract a mate.
  • In flight, it angles its head and legs down, but can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.
  • They roost in trees and nest primarily in the cavity of a tree or a hole between rocks.

From birth to death

  • They are monogamous, and a pair of Southern ground hornbills may be assisted by several adult and immature helpers.
  • During breeding season, males inflate their air sacs to make a series of deep, booming notes.
  • The female incubates a clutch of two eggs for up to 43 days.
  • Southern Ground Hornbill chicks fledge at 80-90 days.


IUCN Vulnerable

Southern ground hornbills, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's Southern ground hornbills live in the Africa Savanna exhibit.