The Strangest & Most Spectacular Bird Ever? The Southern Ground Hornbill!

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
This is one bird that Pete was determined to see on Safari.  Since all Hornbills are cool-looking, I had no idea why this particular species was such an obsession with him. Then I saw these photos (which are outstanding, Pete)!  The Southern Ground Hornbill is simply unbelievable!   And they are HUGE, too!

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
According to The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project (MGHP), theses endangered, turkey-sized birds have "a deep booming 4-note call that they utter at dawn, an alarm clock for rural people with a rhythm that is captured in traditional drumming".  Now, that is cool, right?

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
What I find most astounding is their amazingly human-like eyes!  The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project says that their "lovely long eyelashes are to protect their eyes from the sun and sharp grass or sticks". Believe it or not, they walk a lot like humans, too.  That is a rather odd statement, I know, but I don't really know how to elaborate so as to make it more understandable.  (Check out the last picture to get an idea what I'm talking about!)

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
These are the largest hornbill in the world, they eat only meat and don't ever drink water, they walk on tiptoe 100% of the time (although they can fly if they want to), and they live and raise their young communally.  So why is such an awesome species endangered?

Southern Ground Hornbill by Pete Wrublewski
The Southern Ground Hornbill, like most endangered species on earth, are threatened with permanent extinction because they have encountered the human race.  Loss of habitat, loss of nesting areas, intentional and indirect poisonings, and electrocutions are the biggest threats to Southern Ground Hornbills. They are poisoned intentionally because they break windows in people's homes, usually when a male confuses it's reflection with a competing male.  We have species that do precisely the same thing, but Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays rarely manage to break anything!  The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project has solutions for many of these problems on their website, but only time will tell if we can succeed in keeping these incredible birds alive.
Southern Ground Hornbills by Pete Wrublewski
Here is a male and female of the species, looking for all the world like your average human couple discussing their children as they take a stroll.  Well, maybe they don't look like human parents to most of you, but I see the resemblance!  The male in front has all red flesh on his face and neck, while the female has a patch of blue or purple under her chin.  Otherwise, the males and females are indistinguishable.

Once again, I want to congratulate Pete on his fabulous photography - especially considering he didn't know the camera at all.  Also, I would like to thank Ra K.B., our guide in Chobe National Park, for making Pete's dream of seeing a Southern Ground Hornbill come true!  Thanks again, Ba Rra KB!


  1. Super cool! I look forward to each posting.

  2. Great job on an amazing and informative post! But you forgot to mention that I've even seen these in my community, near my house! Thanks for my 15 minutes.

    1. OMG, Pete! I totally forgot that part of the story! Oh, and Meg tells me that SHE sighted those birds first. I blew it twice in one post! Oh well, at least I've corrected the info here. :)

      Love ya, kiddo!


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