Crowned Hornbill (Lophoceros alboterminatus)

It is a sooty-brown hornbill, with an orange-red bill and white belly. The long white-tipped tail is prominent in flight. Both sexes look similar, but females have a smaller casque occurring above the bill. Flocks thrive in lush forests, forest edges, and woodlands. Its range slightly overlaps with its hornbill cousins, but the species is recognizable through their yellow eyes.

Read further to know more about the Crowned Hornbill.

What is a Crowned Hornbill?

Crowned Hornbill is an African hornbill belonging to the Bucerotidae family. It is a medium-sized bird, sedentary in evergreen forest and woodlands, and highly-gregarious, wandering in flocks composed of up to 80 individuals outside the breeding season. This hornbill species occurs in Angola, Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Bucerotiformes

Family: Bucerotidae

Genus: Lophoceros

Species: L. alboterminatus

Crowned Hornbill Physical Description

Crowned Hornbill is a medium-sized bird, growing 19.6 to 21.2 inches or 50 to 54 centimeters, and weighing about 180 to 330 grams. The adult male sports a sooty-brown plumage on the head, throat, chin, breast and the upperparts. Flight feathers are buff-edged while the long white-tipped tail feathers are conspicuous in flight.

Thick, whitish eyebrows and a flat crown crest occur on the head. The bill is orange-red, accentuated by a casque, or enlargement on its beak, on the upper mandible. A yellow band also occurs at the bill’s base. Eyes are yellow, while the legs and feet are black.

Both sexes look similar, but females are relatively smaller than the males and have a smaller casque. However, the female’s eyes and line at the bill’s base appear to be yellower. Juveniles or immature birds have white streaks and light brownish-yellow edgings on the wing tetrices. Their casque is less prominent.

Where can they be spotted?

Crowned Hornbills thrive in lush forests, forest edges, and sparsely-wooded areas. They also occur in riverine and coastal forests and may be seen in open fields, and parks and gardens in urban areas. These birds can be found in Angola, Ethiopia, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Crowned Hornbill

Crowned Hornbills are omnivorous birds, and feed primarily on insects and invertebrates, such as caterpillars, wasps, termites, beetles, moths, and grasshoppers and consume fruits, seeds, and crops during the dry season. These birds forage in tree canopies, gleaning prey from the ground or vegetation, or catching insects while on the wings.

They are highly-gregarious, occurring in small to large flocks. Groups aggregate at a specific roost site for about two to three weeks before moving to a new one.

Crowned Hornbills are monogamous and form life-long bonds with their partners. Like other hornbills, they have a distinct nesting behavior in which the female seals herself in a natural cavity in a large branch or tree trunk. The actual nest inside is built through bark flakes collected by the male, while the female uses mud and her droppings for closing up the cavity. A vertical slit is left, so that the male may feed her and their chicks.

Egg-laying usually takes place at the beginning of the rainy season. The female will lay a clutch consisting of 2-5 eggs, after a pre-laying period of 7 to 14 days. She will incubate the eggs solely for about 25 to 27 days, while the male continues to hunt for food and feed her. While inside the cavity, the female Crowned Hornbill also shed old rectrices and flight heathers.

Soon, the female will break the entrance, and both parents will share responsibility in feeding the broods. Chicks will fledge in about 46 to 55 days after hatching, and remain under parental care until the next breeding period.

Crowned Hornbills are common in its range, and their number appears to be stable. While deforestations might affect some groups, there are no significant and extensive threats at the moment. They are currently classified as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kruger National Park

St Lucia Wetlands



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park



Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Crowned Hornbill