African calao (Latin Bycanistes) is a genus of birds from the family of hornbills (Bucerotidae).
Medium to large fruit-eating birds found in the forests and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. All species of this genus have black and white plumage. There is no sexual dimorphism in the color of the plumage, but males have more “horns” than females.
They used to be included in the genus Ceratogymna, but now most experts classify them as a separate genus.
Recent genetic data show that Bycanistes sister taxon of horned ravens, this clade separated from the rest of the hornbill tree early in their evolution. Bycanistesare believed to represent the early African branch of the evolutionary tree of this family, while the rest of the hornbills diverged in Asia.
For November 2020, 6 species are included in the genus:
- Bycanistes albotibialis (Cabanis & Reichenow, 1877)
- Bycanistes brevis Friedmann, 1929 - Silver-winged calao
- Bycanistes bucinator (Temminck, 1824) - Kalao trumpeter
- Bycanistes cylindricus (Temminck, 1831) - Brown-faced calao
- Bycanistes fistulator (Cassin, 1850) - loud kalao
- Bycanistes subcylindricus (P. L. Sclater, 1871) - Gray-cheeked kalao
The gray-cheeked kalao is a large hornbill up to 70 cm in size from the genus African kalao. The plumage is black and white. The beak is very large, darkish with a large helmet on top. Females are much smaller than males.
Gray-cheeked kalao are common in the evergreen forests and savannas of equatorial Africa, as well as in the central and western parts of it. Monogamous species, it builds a nest in the hollows of trees. Females usually lay two eggs. The food is usually figs, fruits, insects and small animals.
Quite widespread bird within its range.