Jun 172014


Indian Grey Hornbill-The adoring father from the world of Birds

On this father’s day I was travelling so I missed celebrating the same at home with my daughters who have made beautiful cards for me. So when I came back I thought of writing a post about Father’s day but could not think of a topic, till I was browsing through my pictures of the recent trip to Satpura National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Along with a lot of other birds and animals one common resident of Satpura jungles is the Indian Grey Hornbill, the least flamboyant of the Indian Hornbills, but in no way lesser of a father than the other hornbills.

Now if you are wondering what Hornbill has to do with being a great dad please read on.

But first look at this great dad Indian Grey Hornbill (Scientific name:  Ocyceros birostris ) with a big Cicada in his mouth. How do I know that the bird in the picture is not only a male but also a father?

Male Indian Grey hornbill with insect in beak

A Shy but doting father: The Grey Indian Hornbill

Hornbills are one of those rare birds where the father takes  responsibility of bringing food for the female and later the chicks when they hatch. The mother hornbill during all this period is enclosed in the nest, made in a hollow of a tree and the mouth of the nest is sealed using mud, faeces etc. So once the female has laid egg she stays in the nest till the chicks are large enough to start flying a bit. During all this period the doting father brings food for both the mother and the chicks.

Another transformation that happens during this period is that the hornbills normally considered  fruit and berry eaters, develop a voracious appetite for insects, rodents and lizards, probably because the growing chicks need the protein to grow quickly.

The dad hornbill does this ritual for almost 60-90 days depending on the species and number of chicks in the nest.

Indian Grey Hornbill

Keeping an eye on the nest and photographers

This particular dad hornbill I clicked in Denwa Backwaters Escape a wonderful new property by Pugdundee Safaris right at the river bank where we stayed.  The management has taken extra care to not disturb the trees and ecological balance while construction and are actually working on attracting more birds and have created a water body to attract birds.  The dad hornbill  was too shy to go to the nest while I was clicking so you do not see any nest photo here (which is anyway against birding ethics to click nesting and chick’s photos).  Every time the father hornbill will bring an insect or a lizard in his beak he will first hide in a tree nearby, observe what is happening around, and only when the ground was clear he will visit the Mahua tree, where the nest was located.  He was taking every single precaution to make sure the location of the nest is not disclosed to anybody.

Satpura is one of the most magnificent and spread out Jungle of Central India just like Pench and Kanha. Satpura is more of hilly with some species found only here in central India and is a great place to look for Sloth Beers, Leopards, tigers and many small mammals and numerous birds both resident as well as migrants. Did I spot any wildlife at Satpura National Park? Yes I did and am working on a more detailed post with pictures. Watch this place or subscribe by email to get the updates in your mail box.

Do check this wonderful website that is helping to conserve and create awareness about Hornbills of  India, where you can report your sightings of all species of Hornbills that you may see.

Here are some other posts about birds and bees ( OK not bees )

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🙂 🙂 🙂


  13 Responses to “The Indian Grey Hornbill-A Wonderful Father”

Comments (13)
  1. Loved the way you capture pics 🙂

  2. That is some typical task for a father. He seems to be a great and caring dad

  3. Now this is some information. The pictures have come good. I also once tried capturing a Hornbill in my camera but that was not in the wild but the National Zoological Park (Delhi Zoo) 🙂 You travel a lot bro…keep traveling it’s just that I envy you 😛

  4. Now that is a fascinating story, one I didn’t know before!

  5. Interesting post… I have very little knowledge about birds therefore the post was very educative for me.

  6. loved the way you captured the first picture 🙂

  7. Good pictures… great post

  8. indeed a beautiful bird for sure .. thank you for sharing

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