flush of hornbills

It was a day for hornbill spotting. A walk in the forest started with a visit from the Red-billed dwarf hornbill. It seemed to show some curiosity as I passed by on the trail beneath, dropping down from the canopy, then fluttering back, then returning for another look. I have read they hang out with primates, waiting in the wings for the insects and lizards disturbed as the monkeys feed through a forest. When it chose a perch in the sun, its bill glowed translucent red as if illuminated from within.

Red-billed dwarf hornbill peers through jungle vegetation reminiscent of a Henri Rousseau painting.

Later that afternoon a pair of Piping hornbills sailed by over the savanna, their scimitar bills bright yellow in the sunlight. Two Pied hornbills followed a few minutes later on wings banded in black and white. As the shadows darkened the forest, a shy White-crested hornbill crossed the trail before me, its brilliant white crest, white-tipped wings and long tail flashing into the muted forest. And I could hear the rusted-hinge cries of a pair of Black-casqued hornbills in the canopy of a distant forest. Not until driving home did I spot a pair of these large hornbills cruising above a forest in the evening sky.

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