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Southern ground hornbill - Africa's unusual, vulnerable bird species

Baku, May 13, AZERTAC

The southern ground hornbill is the largest species of hornbill on Earth who can fly up to 18 miles an hour and has an impressive wingspan that reaches about four feet across.

The bird is recognizable by its jet-black feathers, yellow eyes, and bright red throat.

The fleshy part of the bird’s throat, called a wattle, identifies its sex: The throat of a male hornbill is completely red, whereas a female sports a patch of violet blue.

According to the National Geographic, male hornbills can inflate their wattles during mating season to attract females. This vocal bird also uses its wattle to make booming calls that are so loud; they are often mistaken for a lion’s roar.

The southern ground hornbill lives throughout the southern part of Africa. The bird’s diet sometimes includes fruits and seeds, this hornbill is more likely to eat insects, toads, lizards, snakes, and tortoises. It also preys on mammals, such as hares, rats, squirrels, and even small monkeys.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the southern ground hornbill as vulnerable to extinction, though its global population is difficult to quantify.

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