Forest is a treasure trove. When we go through the scenic beauty of Western Ghats we can find scores of organisms inhabit in this greenery. These forests can sustain generations of life. This green nature of ours is on the verge of destruction. The flora and fauna that live within these forests are also under threat. In our forest animals live with an unconditional relationship which is more intense than human relations. The lifecycle of hornbills is a story of rare and undying love. Many species live their life with a single partner till their end; hornbills are one such species with a distinct love story. Hornbills became unique due to their size, beauty, and lifestyle. They have a long down-curved bill that is bright in color. Hornbills are the only birds that have the first two neck vertebrae fused. The main feature of the hornbills is the heavy bill. This bill helps them in fighting, constructing a nest, as well as catching prey. The hornbills normally travel in pairs or small family groups. They are omnivorous birds. They are considered to be important seed dispersers. The unique lifestyle of the hornbill is the reason for choosing it as a state bird of Kerala.
Hornbill’s life starts when the female builds a nest on a tall tree and begins to hatch her eggs. Hornbills build their nest in a dense mature forest at high altitudes; they choose a tree that is at least 10 meters higher than the normal canopy. A big hole in this tree will be chosen for the nest. When the lady hornbill enters the nest, she seals the nest with her droppings. A small hole will be made in this sealed door for feeding and for putting her dropping out for the rest of the days. The nesting period will last for 2 months. In these periods the male bird takes great care to feed the nesting female bird. The male remains near the nest day and night in rain or mist. The lady hornbill is hostile in her nest after laying the eggs. She doesn’t go out after laying the eggs. The Female makes a special sound when the egg hatches. When the male bird hears that sound he will pierce the nest and break it. Once the egg hatches the female gives the eggshell to the male and he throws it away. During the breeding season female and young ones are completely dependent upon the males for survival till the young one reaches a mature state. If anything happens to the male bird then the female and the chicks die of hunger. While seeing all these we feel that these birds are a sign of protection and love. The lifestyles of hornbills are similar to human life somewhere. The male bird brings different kinds of fruits for the nesting female birds. The male gathers only the best of fruits for his mate. The female bird lays 2 to 3 eggs and its incubation period is 31 days. The hornbill species are very special, the male birds serve the family so passionately and sacrifice anything for them like how our father dedicates his life for us. If we take the lifestyle of other species of birds, the male leaves the female and the babies in their nest and makes a new one for him but hornbills protect their female and their babies from rivals till his end. The female bird finds some difficulties to fly after being confined in the nest for 2 months, the male bird continues to feed her for 2 more weeks. Once the feather comes out from the body of babies the mother comes out of the nest. The chicks take another 30 days to come out of the nest. The hornbills feed fruit and figs for the chicks and later start feeding small insects and snakes etc. After coming out of the nest the male, female, and the babies go to the nearby forest in search of their main food. The fruit of the Ficus tree is their main food. When the hornbills move away, their nest became inhabited by others.
Hornbills are one of the beautiful creations of God. The hornbills show us how sublime the concept of family is. Their life is a great lesson for human beings like us. We have a lot to learn from many of the things we avoid that are trivial. None of the creations around us are small. The greatest thing is to recognize the good in them. These birds teach us how precious family is. Nowadays these species are on the verge of extinction because of illegal hunting and deforestation. We have to take necessary steps to conserve our nature and its beautiful habitats; otherwise, we will have to answer to the extinction of these beautiful creations from the earth.