Craighall Park has been the lucky area to have some unusual visitors. A number of African Grey Hornbills have been spotted recentlty. Their distinctive long series of plaintive piping “piu-piu-piu” notes is often heard in the ‘hood.
Here is a video that was taken by Buckingham resident, Loren, on the morning of 5th July 2023:
The African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus) is a species of hornbill that inhabits various regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Known for their striking appearance, these medium-sized birds possess a black-and-white plumage, with a robust, curved bill adorned by a casque on the upper mandible.
African Grey Hornbills are versatile birds, adapted to diverse habitats ranging from woodlands to savannas. They are highly social creatures, often found in small groups or pairs. These birds are primarily insectivorous, feeding on a variety of insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They also consume fruits, seeds, and occasionally small vertebrates, making their diet fairly varied.
Breeding season for African Grey Hornbills usually occurs during the dry months. These birds exhibit an interesting nesting behavior known as cooperative breeding, where a single dominant female is assisted by other group members in raising their chicks. The female seals herself inside a tree cavity using a combination of mud, feces, and food remains, leaving only a narrow slit through which the male provides her with food. This unique nesting arrangement protects the female and her chicks from potential predators.
The presence of African Grey Hornbills in Craighall Park is a testament to the importance of preserving and nurturing urban biodiversity. These beautiful birds not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the suburb but also play a crucial role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling insect populations and spreading seeds.
It is essential that residents and visitors respect the natural habitat of the African Grey Hornbills and refrain from disturbing their nests or encroaching upon their territory.