Hornbills (Bucerotidae) are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropicalAfrica, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. Both the common English and the scientific name of the family refer to the shape of the bill, "buceros" being "cow horn" in Greek. In addition, they possess a two-lobed kidney. Hornbills are the only birds in which the first two neck vertebrae (the axis and atlas) are fused together; this probably provides a more stable platform for carrying the bill. The family is omnivorous, feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and sometimes cliffs. A number of species of hornbill are threatened with extinction, mostly insular species with small ranges.
The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill (Tockus leucomelas) is a Hornbill found in southern Africa. It is a medium sized bird, with length between 48 to 60 cm, characterized by a long yellow beak with a casque (casque reduced in the female). The skin around the eyes and in the malar stripe is pinkish. The related Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill from north-eastern Africa has blackish skin around the eyes.
They have a white belly, grey neck, and black back with abundant white spots and stripes. They feed mainly on the ground, where they forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions. Termites and ants are a preferred food source in the dry season.
Females lay 3 to 4 white eggs in their nest cavities and incubate them for about 25 days. Juveniles take about 45 days to mature. This hornbill is a common, widespread resident of the dry thorn fields and broad-leafed woodlands. Frequently they can be sighted along roads.
Information from a Kruger National Park ranger, these birds are known locally as the "Flying Banana".