The Yellow-billed Hornbill - Better Known As Zazu

The Yellow-billed Hornbill is a colorful and characterful bird whose scientific name is Tockus leucomelas, and common name is Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill. It is better known by most of the the Tanda Tula guests as Zazu. Disney’s Lion King had more of an impact on the bird world than the creators ever thought possible!

Food for thought

Found throughout Southern Africa, these intelligent and inquisitive birds feed mainly on the ground (when not stealing scrambled eggs from bush breakfast!). Here, they forage for seeds, insects, and even small scorpions. Their prominent long and yellow beak helps them to turn over bark and debris when scratching around for food. Once located, they can often be seen hopping around in pursuit of their food!

Family life

Yellow-Billed hornbills are monogamous and have been known to live for up to 20 years. Both the male and female in a pair have very distinctive and separate jobs within their relationship. This becomes most apparent during the breeding season. Once the male has mated with the female he will stay with her and defend their territory. After finding a natural cavity in a tree they will start to build their nest. Both birds will bring leaves and grass for cushioning in the nest, the male will then help the female seal herself into the hole by using mud and droppings.

They leave just a small opening through which the male will feed the female while she incubates the eggs and when the chicks are hatchlings. Eventually, the female will break out of the nest and leave the chicks to rebuild the mud covering. Both adults will continue to feed their young until they are old enough to break out and fly away.

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