<< Previous Next >>

Southern Ground Hornbill

Southern Ground Hornbill
Photo Information
Copyright: Anna Eksteen (Miss_Piggy) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2285 W: 5 N: 5300] (18714)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2010-10-17
Categories: Birds
Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC H9, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 15x Optical zoom, Digital ISO 100
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/640 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2011-08-28 13:19
Viewed: 5149
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Southern Ground Hornbill / Bucorvus leadbeateri

The Southern Ground Hornbill is number 49 in the series of the birds of the Kruger National Park which I am still sharing. Enjoy!

If one directly translate the Afrikaans name of this bird 'Bromvoël' into English it will be 'Moan bird', and listening to the call this bird makes it sound a lot as if it is moaning, especially the juveniles. The young ones will walk and moan and groan non stop, wherever it goes. The adult birds are very photogenic and one always tries to get good photos of their lengthy whimpers. This female was captured from a group of 5 birds walking in the road on the way to the Transport Dam. The midday sun caused some lovely luminous reflections on its black feathers.

It is a large bird, at 90-129cm long. Females weigh 2.2-4.6kg while the males weigh 3.5-6.2kg.

It is characterized by black coloration and vivid red patches of bare skin on the face and throat (dull coloured in juvenile birds). The white tips of the wings (primary feathers) seen in flight are another diagnostic characteristic. The beak is black and straight and presents a casque, more developed in males. Female Southern Ground Hornbills are smaller and have violet-blue skin on their throats.

The call is an "oomph-oomph" frequently repeated.

Mainly eats animals, such as insects, frogs, mongooses and bird nestlings. It forages in groups, so that when one bird locates a prey item it can signal the rest of the flock with a low bark. It often finds prey by digging, especially in dung heaps, and it may snatch food from birds of prey. Some of the food items that have been recorded in its diet are: snakes, lizards, chameleons, tortoises, mongooses, squirrels, young hares, birds and frogs. It rarely eats plants.

Distribution and Habitat
The Southern Ground Hornbill occurs from Kenya and the DRC to southern Africa, where it is widespread. It is fairly scarce in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal (although we've been privileged to see some in the iMfolozi Game Park on quite a number of occasions), Eastern Cape, Limpopo Province and northern Namibia. It generally prefers grassland and savannah woodland habitats, ranging from montane grassland to extensive, tall stands of Zambezi teak, Mopane and woodlands with sparse under storey.

Monogamous, cooperative breeder, with a group consisting of a dominant breeding pair and up to 9 helpers, who are either adult males or juveniles from previous breeding seasons. The group roosts in trees on rock faces, descending to the ground just before dawn and foraging for a lot of the day. They often take a break at midday to play, preen and pass around food to one another.

The nest is usually a cavity in a tree lined with dry leaves, rarely nesting in cavities in rock faces or earthen banks. The same site is used repeatedly over many breeding seasons. Egg-laying season begins with the first heavy summer rains, from August-January, peaking from October-November.

It lays 1-2, rarely 3 eggs 3-14 days apart, which are incubated solely by the female for 37-43 days. The female only makes 3-4 brief sorties out of the nest per day, so is largely reliant on the male and helpers to provide food. The eggs hatch in the sequence laid, meaning that the one chick is 3-14 days older than the other chick. The younger chick is unable to compete for food with its older sibling and dies of starvation when it is about one week old, occasionally surviving for a few more weeks.

The female leaves the nest when the chick is about four weeks old, after which the chick is mostly alone in the nest. The fledging leaves the nest when it is approximately 86 days old, remaining with its parents for several years.

Vulnerable in South Africa, were it has an estimated population of just 1500-2000. Its South African distribution range has decreased hugely recently, due to persecution and habitat alteration. Its range is also decreasing in areas of Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana and other areas of high human population density or extensive farming. However it is still widespread in areas less populated by humans, such as north-eastern Botswana and northern Zimbabwe, but it is still never common. It is generally revered by African people, but it is also feared, leading to rare cases of it being collected for "muti" for bringing rain. Current conservation measures include hand-rearing of the otherwise redundant second born chicks, captive breeding and reintroduction.

Names of this avian species in other languages
Afrikaans ... Bromvoël
Portuguese ... Calau-gigante
French ... Bucorve du Sud
German ... Hornrabe
Dutch ... Zuidelijke hoornraaf
Zulu ... iNgududu Source

I hope you enjoyed looking at this photo as much as I took pleasure in taking it.

Tamrock, rousettus, KOMSIS, jlinaresp, ramthakur, paolo49, maurydv, BREARD, pegos, PeterZ, Pitoncle, cloud, anel, PaulLees, peter_stoeckl, tuslaw has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To PeterZ: No 50 - SpecialMiss_Piggy 2 08-29 07:34
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

hi anna!
An amazing bird you showing here with
good sharpness and composition, the
exposure is also fine!
good work!

hello Anna
wonderful capture of this pretty bird. everything very well.
thank you very much sharing this beauty. well done

Hi Anna,
This is a very nice portrait of the hornbill. The colours are superb and very natural. The pose of this bird is super.

Hello Anna,
fine capture of this interesting bird with good sharpness and splendid details. Beautiful colours and a nice eye contact. Lovely composition, I like it.
Best wishes,

  • Great 
  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2011-08-28 14:35]

Hallo Anna,
Interesting and a great bird ..
Perfect lighting and detail, natural colours, nice Southern Ground Hornbill.
Best wishes,

Hello Anna,
Wondrous plumage, and perfect color registration (though difficult), with good texture and volume. It is an eloquent picture that allows the bird to see well!
Aldo a great note!

It is a beautiful picture of this huge Hornbill taken at mid-day, as its shadow on the ground suggests, Anna. The exposure is well balanced.
Thanks for sharing this gem from your nature rich country.

Hello Anna , very nice on this spectacular composition and the general sharpness of the shot. All the best, Paolo

Hallo Anna,
a very beautiful capture of the Southern Ground Hornbill taken from an excellent low point of view, outstanding sharpness and splendid colours, very well composed
Best regards

Ciao Anna. Excellent light and brilliant colours with perfect details/sharp and DOF. Another great shot from you!


Hello Anna,
interesting bird indeed... a bird with a character,... not necessarily beautiful ;)but never the less a bird with strange massive bill and strikingly red throat. Great addition to your collection ....and TN of coarse! In my workshop here I am presenting you an alternative which addressing some issues in regards to the depth of field and the blueish color tint visible on the Hornbill plumage. Well I know f/5.6 with a compact/bridge camera will be equal to f/11 -13 almost on a APS-C sensor DSLR's and I doubt that you could improve dramatically the situation even at f/4 if you could set this number as an aperture, so this workshop here represent almost an impossible idea of blurring the background with the current hardware. The use of the shadow/highlights resolved some issues in regards to the high contrast scene, I think! Hope you like it Anna! Have a great day!
George Veltchev

Hi Anna.
A good photo of this very interesting looking bird great pose good colours and details.
Cheers Dave

Bonjour Ana,
Il est majestueux, ce volatile.
Superbes couleurs avec une très bonne netteté.

Ciao Anna, great capture of lovely bird in nice walking pose, splendid sharpness, fine details and fantastic colors, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2011-08-29 5:08]

hello Anna
very beautiful image of this splendid bird with great detail and depth, excellent POV and splendid natural colours. Very well done!

Hello Anna,
That you could come so close! I've only seen a tamed one so close in Zimbabwe. The others were always shy. You were very lucky.
This is a very beautiful photo in a lovely natural setting. Excellent sharpness and taken from a very good POV. I'm very curious for nr. 50. Something special I hope.

hello Anna
Great sharpness picture of this (beauty)bird
i like this bird with his RED head
good details and lovely pose to see this one very good
thanks Anna greeting lou

Bonjour Anna,
Très belle publication sous une belle lumière et une excellente profondeur de champ permettant d'apprécier la finesse des détails du sujet dans une couleur difficile à exploiter.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2011-08-29 15:52]

Hi Anna,every time a magnificent surprise,this is truely great! What a beautiful hornbill and what a impressive way to toke it,magic sharpness and plums details and impressive light balance.Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano

  • Great 
  • cloud Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 497 W: 111 N: 1535] (9539)
  • [2011-08-29 23:48]

Hello Anna,
Very unusual birds are in your exotic far country. This species taken very well. Perfect sharpness, exactly visible colours of plumage.
Regards, Pawel

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2011-08-30 4:16]

Hello Anna,
You are right, these birds are very photogenic despite the black plumage. But with their impressive shape and the red parts as contrast they cannot escape to our eye. What I like also on this shot is the majestic way to walk of your specimen. Lovely natural picture. Very well done!
kind regards

Another Impressive bird of Africa Anna! Beautiful photo with good composition, wonderful colours and impressive sharpness.

Hello Anna,
Yes, I agree with Peter...No 50 will be a milestone and I am looking forward to it very much. your series "Birds of Kruger National Park" MUST please be published. This is a fabulous image of a Ground Hornbill...I know how difficult it is to get close to it...this one, I think, does not sit, or strut, around in bird sanctuaries. So no armchair photography I think? Very well done indeed.

Hi Anna, fabulous capture of this remarkable Bird, splendid exposure/white balance control with terrific saturated colours, nice and sharp, superb composition here Anna and very well done,
Best regards,


Anna, great shot of this hornbill. Has great sharpness, detail and POV. Have a wonderful day, Bill

Hi Anna,
the hoornraaf: certainly not a to be called a beauty, but an unforgettable truly majestical appearance! Very well presented from a strictly rectangular approach that gives a description just as perfect as an excellent painted illustration. Inspite of the hard sunlight of noon even the dark parts in the shadows of feathers are well visible, indeed there is an impressively rich spectre of shades and details made visibe by you. Thank you! Enjoy the new Springtime arriving! With best regards from Vienna where the last hot days of summer are just ending in some locally heavy thurnderstorms by the arrival of Autumn,

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2011-09-05 14:25]

Hello Anna,
The bright red eye patch and wattle makes this guy stand out like a sore thumb. It has very stout looking legs, which I'm sure come in handy for digging for insects. The bill also looks to be of the heavy duty type, and judging from it's vast assortment of diet, probably comes in handy.
The sun was favorable to you on this particular day, as the dark feathers show some signs of colorful iridescent colors. Wonderful detail is shown and the exposure is right on the money!! Well done!!
PS. Rosie and I are having a blast, as we have all six grandchildren home at this time. We will have one more week of this, then two go back home to Oklahoma.

Hi Anna
Nice record shot of this hornbill. Nice and sharp with good feather detail

Calibration Check