- Hornbill Heights - Part 1
- Hornbill Heights - Part 2
- Hornbill Heights - Part 3
- Hornbill Saga - Faithfulness
I looked, and looked again. The opening of the nest was larger than it was the previous day. It only meant one thing. The female had let herself out! The male, obviously, with the fruit in its beak was going to feed the chicks. A doting and dutiful father, considering that the female was nowhere to be seen! I was about to have my first look at the little ones but that would be another day.
He would regurgitate the fruit one after another, and place them lovingly into the waiting beaks of his little chicks.
It would peep and go away unsure of what to do. Perhaps the hornbill's formidable beak was a deterrent.
Even a wasp in the mud below the tree was a potential source of nutrition for his chicks. I had never seen him come to ground level when the mother bird was incarcerated.
The male still was doing what he did best, feed the hungry inmates......................
........... the female was just perched above and observing him. She just did not seem to have built up her strength yet.
However, it was evident that she had passed on some of her skills in confinement to her chicks. They too were adept at shooting out their poo out of the nest with unerring accuracy!
The first few days after her reappearance she made no attempt to feed the chicks.
It was the male who was feeding the chicks who always appeared very hungry.
On occasions the male attempted to coax the female to feed the chicks by passing the stuff in his beak to the female. Perhaps he realized that she was lacking in confidence to deliver the food to the waiting beaks of her little ones.
I wasn't sure what the problem was but after a few attempts at passing the fruit to her chicks she gave up and flew to the end of the broken branch above the nest to catch her breath. Maybe the fruit was too large or too smooth that she wasn't able to grip it properly. Perhaps she was afraid of dropping it.
After a few seconds she flew back again to make another futile attempt.
Back again to the perch to rework her strategy. She was obviously out of practice, more used to receiving stuff than giving it. I though it should have been instinctive!
Attempt after failed attempt occurred over the next four and a half minutes. Somehow, she wasn't able to get it right. Maybe the chicks weren't ready to take something from her because they were so used to getting it from their father. He would have had time to give 20 fruits if he had 4 minutes!
The last time she tried it, I thought I saw the fruit slip out to the ground below. In any case she never made another attempt that morning!
So much more easier than trying to put a fruit in the little beak! I guess the male wasn't very confident in her abilities. He'd sit over her and fix her with a sharp look while she was at it!
It seemed that the father shared a special bond with his children. Sometimes I would see him bend over as if to listen to something that the chicks had to tell him.
Initially I thought the chicks had already left but the presence of the mother on the branch above the nest reassured me that they were inside
Both the parents were busy running around and there seemed to have been an exchange of duties too. I saw the male flying down to the papaya tree below to pluck leaves for lining the nest.
The tidbits he carried were more colourful and interesting! Even to me, an observer! He had even carried a garden lizard to his beloved when she was in confinement. A visual, I had missed recording.
Meanwhile the little ones were now always peeking out to survey the world they had to move out into. They would learn how tough it would be to survive sooner than later! A lesson I also was to learn shortly.