Malabar Grey Hornbill
I think this bird behaves like a ventriloquist when it calls and it’s call sounds like a witch. But this bird is no witch. This poor, mainly fruit-eating bird is an important seed-disperser. They are very localized and are found only in India’s Western Ghats.
The male is slaty grey with a large, pointy, tangerine orange beak which is yellowish towards the pointed side with eyes that match. Large white eyebrows and long black eyelashes give it a very wise look. Long black tail with white tips on the underside. The underside is grey with white streaks except near the vent which is pale orange.
The female has a creamy white beak with a dark base and reddish brown eyes.
The most amazing thing about Hornbills is that the female uses a tree hollow or crevice as a nest. Once inside, she seals herself in that hole, leaving only a small hole or slit, through which the male passes her food. He makes several trips a day to ensure adequate food is available for the family.
The confinement is broken after around may be two months or more once the chicks hatch out. During this entire period she stays locked in and is completely dependent on her partner. Trust is beautiful…isn’t it?
Thereafter, both parents take care of the young ones.
I accidentally found a nest when I saw a male making several trips to a particular spot but I decided not to disturb him at this very delicate stage.
The main problem faced by Hornbills is habitat loss. They need fruiting trees to feed on.
The Hornbills of Northeast India were hunted for their beaks which were worn by the tribals as head gear.