Best seen and not heard

Best seen and not heard

Meet the Malabar Pied Hornbill, a bird that’s got the looks but not the pipes.

Often found around the Mahoora Tented Safari Camp in Yala, the Malabar Pied Hornbill is a fantastic bird for photographers to track, as it gives incredible profile shots and is almost model-esque in its posing. The beautifully curved yellow bill stands out in stark contrast to the distinct black Casque and black plumage of the body, which makes for great pictures when shooting the bird against cerulean skies. But alas, being blessed with good looks meant shortcomings in other areas! Not much can be said about the call of this hornbill, except that it’s about as far as you can get from words like “Melodious”, “Chirpy” or “Silvery whistle” and is best described as a sound from product of an unholy union of a chicken and a donkey.

Fun Facts

Apart from being the coolest beak-mod of the avian world, the Casque has a practical use. Due to its hollow nature, it helps to amplify the Hornbills' unique call across dense jungle areas; no doubt startling many an animal from their peaceful reveries. The cool beak is also very practical in helping this omnivorous bird to indulge in a balanced diet of fruits, insects, small mammals and little lizards.

Story of the photo

While on a trek in the Weheragala area of the Yala National Park, Gavin came across the perfect spot to shoot this Hornbill. He opines that, even though they are commonly found throughout evergreen forests, a chance to capture them on camera should never be missed, because they give the most curious looks and the coolest poses.

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