Sep 25, 2009

Silvery-cheeked Hornbill

Whenever I see a hornbill, and I behold that mighty beak and its casque, all I see is a massive wedge of toenail, complete with fungal infection. I want to call my grandpa's podiatrist and have him prescribe these birds some sort of anti-fungus medication, anything to mend what seems to be a jagged mass of bone and keratin.

Like other hornbills, the silvery-cheeked hornbill is a smart bird. They inhabit tall evergreen forests in eastern Africa, from the Sudan and Ethiopia, all the way sown to south Africa. They feast on almost anything they can get their beak on, including fruits, insects, and small vertebrates.

Photo source: Helen Grose

Silvery-cheeked hornbills are dutiful parents. They share the task of incubating the eggs in a nest cavity. Once the eggs hatch, the female seals herself in the nest with the chicks until they are half grown. Meanwhile, daddy brings home fruit in his gullet and regurgitates them for the family. At one such nest it was estimated that the male brought home 24,000 fruits in a 120-day breeding cycle (200 fruits a day!).

My kids may not always like what we put on the table for dinner, but they need to count their blessings that I don't come home from work with an engorged gullet and then proceed to regurgitate softened spaghetti and salad for that night's meal. It's all about perspective.


Anonymous said...

Hey Wombat, care to find out if this spidey is real or not?

Raging Wombat said...

Yes, and it is wrong on so many levels!