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Bird of the month: Yellow casqued hornbill

My Magazine 2022/06
1 min
Hornbills are big birds which are not really common residents of The Gambia. There are quite some types of hornbills present in the Senegal and Gambia region, and some are easily confused with other members of the hornbill family. Their distinguishing feature is a casque above the decurved bill, which varies in colours and sizes.

They are mostly found around trees since most of the hornbills feed on fruits and make their nest inside the tree holes, which are later sealed by the female, staying with the eggs throughout the whole incubation and the first period of life of chicks, being fed by small narrow hole by the partner. They can also eat insects.

Photo by Mark Goddard

Yellow casqued hornbills or Ceratogymna Elata grow from 70 to 90 cm tall. They are rarely spotted in The Gambia; more often, they can be seen in the Casamance area. They are on the red list category and are nearly threatened.

Because of their size, they also have massive long wings, creating heavy wingbeats accompanied by swishing and buzzing sounds. Also, their voice is very resonant, somehow similar to nasal trumpeting.

Photo by Mark Goddard

Female, Male and Juvenile vary in size and colour of the casque and head. The adult male has distinctive pale blue bare skin around the eye and inflatable throat wattles. Its casque is blackish to creamy on top. Bill is somehow blackish as well. The female is smaller and has a reddish-brown head and neck with some white feathers. Bill and casque are smaller and all creamy. Juvenile is even smaller in size without casque and wattles.

They can be seen mainly on the edges of the lowland and gallery forests of the savanna. They often migrate following the fruiting trees, in pairs or small family parties.

Photo by Mark Goddard

Photo Credits: Mark Goddard

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Drink of the month: Baobab juice
Trip of the month: Ninki Nanka trail - Casamance

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