Northern red-billed hornbill (Tockus erythrorhynchus)

on 6th August 2021

Tockus erythrorhynchus

This hornbill is also known as African red-billed hornbill or Northern red-billed hornbill. It is endemic to Africa and populate sub-saharan areas. This subspecies is found in Ethiopia, Somalia and southward to Tanzania. The species is not listed as a threatened species. It is comparatively smaller than the Oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) that has been commonly sighted  in Singapore. T. erythrorhynchus is about half the size of A. albirostris.

Tockus spp lack a casque on the head which is very obvious in Anthracoceros spp.

This hornbill is characterised by white spots on its covert feathers and a red bill.

Photo courtesy of Johnny Wee. Red-billed hornbill perched on a Lannea coromandelica tree. East Coast Park. 
4 August 2021


This specimen is probably a female bird as there is an absence of yellow or pinkish feather in the throat area. The small black patch at the base of the bill also hints at its gender. The black patch is larger in male birds.

Photo courtesy of Johnny Wee.  Red-billed hornbill feeding on Lannea coromandelica fruits. East Coast Park.
 4 August 2021


The natural diet of this species consists of insects like beetles, grasshoppers, termites, larvae; vertebrates like lizards, young birds, small mammals and plant food like fruits and grain. This bird is probably an escapee that has found its niche at East Coast Park. It has amazing survival instincts and has been able to adapt its diet to the local environment.  The bird often looks for insects on the ground. BICA members have also posted many beautiful shots of this bird in varying poses and ingesting varying types of food.

Photo courtesy of Johnny Wee. Red-billed hornbill in descending flight. East Coast Park. 4 August 2021


In its natural environment these birds often congregate on the ground in search of food.

Who will this bird eventually buddy up with?


My profuse thanks to Ali Ibrahim, formerly with NParks, for help in identifying Lannea coromandelica.

This post is a cooperative effort between Birds, Insects N Creatures Of Asia and BESG to bring the study of birds and their behaviour through photography and videography to a wider audience.



1.  Handbook of the birds of the world vol. 6 Mousebirds to Hornbills edited by Josep del Hoyo, Andrew Elliot and

Jordi Sargata copyright 2001 BirdLife International

2. Tropical trees and shrubs: A selection for Urban Plantings by Wee YC copyright 2003



6 August 2021

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