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Tockus damarensis (Damara hornbill) 

DamararooibekneushoringvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Calao de Damara [French]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Bucerotiformes > Family: Bucerotidae

Tockus damarensis (Damara hornbill)  Tockus damarensis (Damara hornbill) 
Damara hornbill, Waterberg, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Damara hornbill. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

The Damara Hornbill occurs in Namibia and south-west Angola, preferring Acacia, Mopane and broad-leaved savanna woodland. It mainly eats insects, foraging on bare ground but occasionally catching insects in the air. The nest is usually a natural tree cavity sealed from the inside by the female. It lays 3-8 eggs, which are incubated by the female for around 24-27 days, with the male doing the hunting for both of them. The chicks stay in the nest for 18-45 days, becoming fully independent a few days after fledging.

Distribution and habitat

It occurs from central and north-eastern Namibia to south-west Angola. It generally favours Acacia woodland, also occurring in Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland, broad-leaved savanna and riverine woodland.

Distribution of Damara hornbill in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Predators and parasites


Mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging on bare ground but occasionally catching insects in the air. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It usually uses natural tree holes as nests, lining the interior with leaves. Once a site has been chosen, the female seals the entrance almost completely, using its own faces and crushed millipedes brought by the male.
Tockus damarensis (Damara hornbill)   

Damara hornbill investigating a tree cavity. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]

  • Egg-laying season peaks from February-March, after the onset of summer rainfall.
  • It lays 3-8 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 24-27 days. The male helps out by giving the female food through the narrow nest entrance slit.
  • The female leaves the nest when the oldest chick is about 18 days of age, after which the chicks reseal the nest entrance. They stay in the nest hole for roughly 27 more days, becoming fully independent a few days after fledging.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.