Monday, May 21, 2012

Hornbill Lessons

You have to be very lucky to spot such a large variety of birds in the vicinity of where you live. My blogfriend, Sangeeta Khanna (who is also a antioxidants researcher, botanical expert, trekker, photographer, nutritionist and follower of traditional systems in food and medicine) clicked these two hornbills .

At first I thought this was a kind of Hornbill ballet. But there is more to it....

Turns out that there are at least 9 varieties of Hornbills found in India. They have such amazing beaks for a specific reason. Unlike some fashionable types we see around us today, these birds are monogamous.

They nest in holes in trees. When time comes to procreate, the female starts packing up the hole with all kinds of recyclable material, leaving only space for her to get through. She then goes in and packs the hole further, leaving space only for her beak to come out. The male, passes foodstuff to her through this system, as she sits in confinement , inside the dark hole, lays eggs, and then undergoes a spontaneous moulting.

Once outside, she thinks nothing of bending over backwards to straighten out an erring kid.  As you can see.

Real Hornbills,
are monogamous,
have very strong beak structures,
and make nests
for breeding in
holes of trees,
used again and again.

The female starts
sealing the hole
with mud, dirt and fruit pulp,
leaving a small entrance for herself.

She squeezes in
and seals herself in
leaving an outlet only
for the beak,
the male can provide sustenance
as she
lays eggs,
spontaneously moults
in the rich darkness.

One day,
her kid starts acting too smart,
unlike some folks i know,
she thinks nothing
bending over backwards
and clamping the kid's beak shut.

And then
we have those
with Siren Horns
who generate Bills,
(but never pay);
who create several households
and several off springs,
not to mention,
several non-hole-in-the-tree set ups.

Destiny urges a moulting,
but they refuse.

They must stay
the way they are
when the son
opens his beak wide
and demands,
they can actually feed him
in the darkness
without any
visible effort
more "black" stuff
than he needs.


  1. Wonderful once again. You add value to the pictures really :-)

    1. Sangeeta, thank you ! There is so much to learn from the birds...

  2. I guess I am also very lucky , thanks to Sangeeta I too got to see it
    and once again a lovely poem mam :)


    1. Bikram, Thank you ! Sangeeta's garden and neighborhood is like a nature school, isnt it ?