Welcome to Beasts of Botswana, an occasional series where we profile some of our favorite furred, feathered, scaled, and leafed friends here in southern Africa. We are not naturalists by any stretch, but we like to give a nod and a fist bump to the creatures that make living here so amazing. This week, the southern yellow-billed hornbill – photos by Julie, words by Steve.
Hornbills are one of our favorite African birds for two reasons: they are both curious and patient.
They are curious enough that they don’t scare easily, and patient enough to be exceptionally photogenic. The yellow-billed hornbill’s ramrod posture, tiny legs, and side-eye gaze give it the air of an Oxford Don. A very dusty one. It roosts and nests in the shorter trees of the southern African woodlands.
This is a confident bird, and he is not spooked easily. They spend most of their time on the ground foraging for whatever food they can find. A true omnivore, they consume the spectrum of edibles, from seeds to small lizards. As a result, it also tends to hang around the big mammals in the Botswana velds and deserts – so when you encounter a hornbill, it’s not unusual to run across larger, if less dignified, creatures.