Bird Families

A pair of Kaffir ravens appeared in the "Zambezi River"

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The northern horned raven is an imposing bird. It weighs 4 kilograms, and is 1.3 meters long (from the beak to the end of the tail). He does not jump on the ground, but walks and runs very briskly: 30 kilometers per hour! It flies a little faster. Horned crows live in monogamy for 10-12 years or more. The female does not cover the entrance to the baobab hollow, in which it nests.

In the family of horned birds, only female horned ravens (two species in Africa) are not walled up, and the way of life for these birds is different - not arboreal, but terrestrial. They are black, with a blue "face" (or red in another species), with a red throat sac, which is thoroughly stretched. Common birds of the savannah. They catch insects, especially a lot of locusts, lizards, small rodents, even snakes. However, other hornbills are good at dealing with snakes. They will see a snake, call their relatives with a cry, surround it, tear it with their beaks, substituting wings for the snake bites like shields.

Horned crows breed during the rainy season, like all hornbills that live in dry places. At this time, their bass cries are heard, reminiscent of a distant lion's roar. Nests are mainly in the hollows of the baobabs: where these trees grow, there are many horned ravens. The female incubates two eggs for a month. Chicks do not leave the nest for another three months. Then they live with their parents for nine months.

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Hornbills (Bucerotidae) are characterized by a long, thick beak equipped with strange outgrowths; this distinctive feature is easily recognizable as a rhinoceros. The homeland of these birds is Yuzhn. Asia, Middle and South. Africa. All 50 species belonging to this family are very similar to each other in constitution, color and lifestyle. They live from the seashore to an altitude of 3000 meters, usually in dense forests, and only small species nestle in the bush. Most of them have an extremely awkward gait, but in the branches of trees they move with great dexterity, their flight is also quite skillful and is accompanied by such a loud noise that you see a flying rhinoceros much later than you hear. These are cautious, shy, rather intelligent birds. Their voice is a dull cry, uttered by birds very often and significantly animating the forest.

The food of the hornbills is mixed. Most of them catch small vertebrates and insects and are quite dangerous for small birds with which they live in the same cage, in addition, they all, without exception, eat berries, fruits and grains. The breeding method of these birds is extremely remarkable: the female sitting on the eggs is tightly walled up in the hollow, only a small hole remains, through which the male throws in abundant food for his girlfriend. The female must stay in this prison all the time until the chicks hatch and learn to fly. In captivity, hornbills quickly become tame.

The most famous of all African hornbills is the abbagamba, or erkum - Tmetoceros abyssinicus (now the horned crow Bucorvus abyssinicus), which is one of the largest species of this family. Its very large, laterally compressed beak is decorated with one rather high outgrowth, wings and tail are short, but legs are of considerable length. Abbagamba lives in the wooded steppes and mountains of Africa. This bird is so noticeable that every native knows it, and it enjoys a certain respect everywhere. In an excited state, she behaves very strangely, spreads and folds her tail, like Indian roosters, inflates her throat sac, drags her wings on the ground and generally takes on a formidable appearance. Its flight is light and beautiful, and when the bird rises to a certain height, it becomes soaring. It is very difficult to get close to this shy and careful bird.

In the stomach of one killed specimen of abbagamba, in addition to dung beetles and grasshoppers, several worms and a rather large chameleon were found. Gurenay believes that abbagamba feeds on snails, lizards, frogs, rats, beetles and other insects, while Myoteiro claims that he eats reptiles, birds, eggs, beetles, cassava roots and groundnuts. These birds kill large snakes in the following way: having found a similar reptile, the abbagamba comes with 3-4 other comrades, spreads its feathers, teases the snake and suddenly strikes it with a strong beak, such attacks are repeated until the snake is killed. The Marquis Antinori received one chick of this bird, taken out of the nest, fed it with pieces of meat and mice, and in a short time taught him to himself so that he always resorted to the "abbagamba" clique. The ease of its maintenance and taming, according to Antinori, is sufficient to consider him a worthy friend at home, while catching mice and other harmful animals, of course, does a great service.

The horned raven, one of the most interesting birds in Africa, is most often not used for nesting a hollow in the trunks of a baobab, and, unlike other rhinos, the female does not immure herself. They incubate for 30 days, and the male sometimes replaces the female, and then the parents feed the chicks on the nest for another 3 months, and continue to feed after the flight for 8-9 months. Naturally, a pair of horned ravens does not give birth to new chicks every year. Adult chicks (usually 2) stay with their parents until they start their own family. Horned crows are birds with complex behaviors, and like all family-group birds and omnivores, they are intellectuals in the feathered world.

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Horned crows such as Bucorvus leadbeateri are an exception to the rule. These birds do not have the habit of female reclusiveness: they live in colonies and hatch chicks in a normal nest, which they build together. Oddly enough, but the colony, usually numbering about eight individuals, is ruled not by the male, but by one of the females. She incubates eggs, which were laid by all females, and other members of the colony supply her with food.

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By the way, snakes to some extent left an imprint on the life of all the birds of this order, especially on the representatives of the rhinoceros family. These birds are so nicknamed because they all have a large growth on their beaks (in some, it goes over their heads). It is usually porous on the inside and therefore lightweight. Only in the helmet rhinoceros does it look like a bone one. (This growth weighs 300-350 grams with a bird weighing about three kilograms.) So these birds are so afraid of snakes that during incubation of eggs they walled themselves up in the literal sense of the word. All 44 species of this family. Only one species - the horned raven - does not do this, because the snake is not afraid. Moreover, he often eats snakes himself, boldly entering into battle with them. At the same time, he, like a shield, uses his large wings. Horned crows (apparently so nicknamed for their black, only in some places with white and red "trim" plumage) generally differ from the rest of the birds of the family. They do not live in forests, but in savannas, lead a terrestrial lifestyle, but they often arrange nests in trees (the hollows of baobabs are their favorite place). But they can also make nests in rock crevices.

The rest of the rhinos build nests exclusively in hollows. Having chosen a suitable hollow, the female begins to brick it up. She does everything herself. The male only brings her building material: fruit pulp, lumps of earth, twigs. All this is held together by droppings and, drying up, turns into a very strong "concrete" wall. Then, when the hole is sufficiently reduced, the female squeezes into the hollow and continues to work from the inside until the hole becomes very small. Now she is calm - the snakes will not penetrate into the nest.As for starvation, this also does not threaten the bird - a devoted spouse remains in the wild, who will tirelessly take care of the female sitting on the eggs, then of the offspring. He will feed his family so faithfully that by the time the chicks leave, he will lose almost half of his weight. (L. Brown writes that in some species such feeding lasts six months). When the chicks grow up, the female breaks the wall separating her from the outside world, and together with the offspring gets out of the hollow.

Most rhinos have two eggs in a clutch. A chick usually survives alone, but it happens that two small rhinos leave their nest. Some females have only one egg - this is in relatively small Toko rhinos. They feed exclusively on insects, and therefore the Toko's lifestyle is somewhat different. The Toko female also immures herself in a hollow, but not for the entire period of feeding. When the chick grows up a little, she breaks open the wall, gets out, then brings materials together with the male, and the chick closes the gap from the inside. And the female, like the male, begins to carry food for him. So he "sits out" until the time when he can fly out of the nest on his own. (True, B. Grzimek says that he observed two chicks at Toko. One was two days older and tried to get out of the hollow earlier. The second one immediately began to cover up the gap made by the first - to eliminate the “disorder.” But, apparently, this is happening not often.) It is curious that parents with loud cries encourage the chicks getting out of the nest, but they do not help to break the wall. Other rhinos are omnivores. Although in some, for example, horned ravens, animal food predominates: lizards, snakes, bird eggs. Others, for example, the largest among rhinos - kalao (their length is up to 120 centimeters) or large Indian rhinos - vegetable, mainly fruits. At the same time, they eat in a rather original way - they pluck the fruit on the fly, while on the fly they throw it up high and, having caught it, eat it. All rhinos are inhabitants of South Asia and Africa.

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