The Love Bird on the Earth ----- Great Hornbill


The Love Bird on the Earth ----- Great Hornbill
Writer/Dan Fen   Photographer/Dan Fen
       The Great Hornbill is described as dudievins in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan, standing for faithful love. The most commonly used congratulation to the newly wedding couples is just like this: wish your love as deep as that of Great Hornbills! The male Great Hornbill has a 30 -centimeter big mouth and a wide protuberance whose front part has two protrudent horns with various shapes from a horn on the rhinos’ nose to the helmet of an gallant ancient warrior. Except for the smaller protuberance and the long and thick eyelash in the eyes, the female Great Hornbill is very alike.
        The parenting system of Great Hornbill is very unique. Every year from March to June, the Great Hornbill couples would fly wing to wing, finding a spacious tree hole and holding yarns and leaves in the mouth to build a comfortable nest in which sooner or later two or three babies would be delivered. When the female Great Hornbill start to recuperate in the nest, the male one would bring clays, yarns and screes with their mouth, and envelop a few inches’ thick wall at the entrance of the tree hole with his spit as adhesive, only leaving a small round hole in the middle of the wall for him to put his mouth shell in. The female Great Hornbill would confine herself in the secure nest and carefully hatch and raise their babies. The nest is not only safe and comfortable, but also helps to protect the nestlings from threats and hurts from severe weather, snakes and bird of prey. When doing defecation, the Great Hornbill couples would aim their anus at the small hole and spray the dirt out. From time to time, the female Great Hornbill would remove the dirt out of the nest to keep it clean.
        In the following five months, the responsibility of feeding the whole family would be shouldered on the male bird. Whether it is windy, rainy or sunny, the male bird be persistent in foraging at dawn. Then he would remove a layer of mucosa in his stomach and spit it out to form a thin leptosporangiate, by which he can bring the food for his wife and babies. From one time to another, the male bird would send the food through the only hole of the wall. If the female bird gave no response at this time, the male bird would gently knock the tree trunk to inform the female bird of the meal. The industrious male bird cannot rest until it is dark and cannot have a good sleep in the safe nest with the company of both his wife and babies but perch lonely on the brunch outside the tree hole......This is bound to be a long and tough process with no enjoyment and earnings but hardship and sweats. However, there is never the case that a male hornbill would abandon his wife and babies and slip away, let alone find another lover.
        The male and female bird would make one-day joint efforts to cut down the wall from the opposite direction with their hard mouth shell the time when their babies grow old enough. Therefore, once an accident happened to the female bird during the hatch or the rearing time, his wife and babies would be doomed to die. Even if the female bird wants to find food for herself, she would fail to cut down the thick wall. Before going out of the tree hole, the female bird must change her feather, and wait until her wings are strong enough. When the babies grow up, his parents should help them practice flying and foraging and would not feel relieved until these babies totally grasped life skills.
       In bird’s world, hornbill has the highest longevity. Their average age is 40, and 50 is the oldest. Hornbill in Yunnan, once being a very common species in the past, has became very precious resulting from the dramatic shrinking of forestry area and people’s capture. Perhaps once the female and male bird choose to live together, they had made commitments with life to share weal and woe with each other, nothing can separate them except death. Since the loving-bird--- Great Hornbill stands for happiness, I wish all of us can join in protecting it! (Copy editor/ Liu Xiaoqing)
(PS:Some pictures from the network)