Southern Ground Hornbill

Bucorvus leadbeateri
southern ground hornbill

The southern ground hornbill sometimes lives as a single breeding pair but more commonly in a cooperative breeding group in which there is a dominant breeding pair — usually the largest birds in the flock — and the rest of the group helps care for the young. These flocks typically consist of 2 to 11 individuals.

As their name suggests, southern ground hornbills spend the majority of their time on the ground and are rarely seen flying. They are non-migratory and have large defined territories that they defend using duets or choruses of calls. These calls are so loud that they are sometimes mistaken for the roaring of lions.

The flock will all go out on foot to forage and hunt for food. Their long beaks act like tongs, allowing them to catch prey such as venomous snakes while remaining out of harm’s way.

Fun Fact:
  • The southern ground hornbill is the largest hornbill species
  • The chorusing of southern ground hornbills can be heard of 1 mile away
  • The southern ground hornbill possesses a strikingly red face, but females also have a blue to violet patch on their neck just below their beak
  • The dominant breeding pair in a flock of southern ground hornbills typically lays eggs once every 6 years
Conservation Rating:


Natural Habitat

Woodlands, savannas, grasslands


Southern Africa


Height: 3ft.

Wingspan: 4-6 ft

Weight: 7-14 lbs (male), 5-10 lbs (female)


30-40 years in the wild; up to 60 years in managed care


Females typically lay 2 eggs once every 6 months, with an incubation period of about 40 days

Diet Details

Arthropods, amphibians, lizards, snakes, small mammals, and occasionally carrion, plant matter, or groom parasites off of warthogs

Job Fair



Please review our booking tips before continuing

1. Please make one field trip per reservation order. Complete one and start a new one if you have multiple days you are booking.

2. Headcount can be approximate. Please include children and adults in your headcount. Please do not include pass holders in your headcount for a ticket.

3. On the ticket page, choose the correct grade level (to the left of your screen) to receive the correct chaperone ratio.

4. On the ticket page, when on the calendar section, the number of tickets available will appear in the top right corner for each particular day. Tickets available include children and adults. If you have more people than tickets available, please choose another day.

5. Anyone that is ordering lunch, even pass holders and adults that receive free chaperone tickets, do need to pay for a lunch IF they are ordering one. Free chaperone tickets and pass holders are for admission only.

Boxed lunch orders must be received 5 business days prior to your field trip arrival. Groups will be responsible for all boxed lunches that were confirmed at that time.

6. Payment does not need to be paid at the time of registration. Choose the pay upon arrival option if you would like one person to pay for your entire trip on the day of your visit.

7. The prices of adult and children’s tickets are different.

8. You will receive a confirmation number and confirmation letter via email when your trip is confirmed. If you do not, please contact right away.

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Christmas in the Wild Reservation Changes

  • This can be found in your original purchase or reservation confirmation email.