Meet the bird who invented long eye lashes


A picture of a ground hornbill.

Chances you may have never met them. They are birds, and most people know them as southern ground hornbills.

Apart from their striking looks, there are other interesting facts about them.

For one thing, as its name suggests, the birds spends much of it's time on the ground.

In size they are somewhat similar to the turkey, and like the turkey, they really does not fly that much.

With their distinctive, ponderous waddle, they wanders the central and southeastern regions of Africa.

If you should ever meet the bird, you would not fail to recognize it because of it's scarlet throat bags and eye patches and, of course, their long, stunning eyelashes!

Unique breeding characteristics


The ground hornbill is a shy breeder—on average, it raises one chick to fledgling every six years.

During the breeding season, the males provides a good supply of dry leaves to line the nests, which are usually in hollow trees or rock cavities.

Then the females carefully tend the eggs for a period of 40 days.

Together with other members of the family bird group, they scurry to and fro, providing a steady supply of worms, grubs, and other delicacies to the ‘mother in waiting'.

It is a joyous occasion when, three months after hatching, the new arrivals leave the nest to join the rest of our family unit.

The road to maturity is a slow one—it takes at least six years before the young ones to reach full adulthood.

And it takes even longer for one of them to succeed in establishing his own family.

Of course, the fact they live long (many of them up to 30 years) gives them ample time to pass their genes on to other generation.

As you can see, the bird is family oriented, with groups of no more than eight birds living and working together.

Each family operates in an area of about 40 square miles [100 sq km] of African savannas, woodlands, and grasslands.

In some parts of southern Africa, they have lost up to 70 percent of their habitat to agriculture and human habitation.

However, they are very protective of their ranges and regularly patrol their borders.

Their food—snakes, grubs, tortoises, and insects—is not to be shared, even with hornbills from other families.

In their aggressiveness to ward off intruders, they sometimes make fools of themselves. How?

When they see their own reflection on a windowpane, they often charge into the window, mistaking the reflection for an intruder.

Inevitably, the impact of the long hard bill shatters the window.

Because of the many broken windows, some people have placed wire mesh over their windows.

Their habitats threatened


People have crowded the birds out of their habitat. Others shoot them with guns.

Farmers often put out poisoned bait for jackals and other animals deemed undesirable.

But since the ground hornbill normally digs for food with their long beaks, they dig their own graves, in a manner of speaking, when they dig up the poisoned food.

On the other hand, there are some people are working hard to protect them from these dangers.

So whenever you happen to be in their area and hear their booming call, du-du-dududu du-du-dududu, know you are in the realm of the ground hornbill.