Atop a verdant hillock, beneath the rising sun,
looking down on tree tops, my vigil had begun.
Ticking off the bird calls, all expected by far,
suddenly a screeching call, loud and bizarre.
On the southern slopes, I set my sight in search,
and there it was riotously, calling from its perch.
Quickly from the east, responding loud and clear,
from the boughs I saw, a baby hornbill appear.
Swooping in and nuzzling, his baby with his beak,
daddy tossed a large insect, a snack for his chick.
A small gentle throaty talk, and off he was again,
maybe to get it more grub, before it could rain.
The baby had meanwhile, wolfing down the snack,
started squealing and cackling, calling daddy back.
Daddy though was far away, not within earshot,
despite the intense calls, its efforts came to nought.
Patience was a virtue, it definitely had not heard,
onward over the branches, stumbled our baby bird.
Hopping about a little, its clumsy wings held forth,
diving into the thicket, our champ headed north!
Surely a short while later, daddy fluttered down,
despite the juicy beetle, victory turned to a frown.
Searching in crevices, and all shrubs thereabout,
he suddenly looked alarmed, fearing a breakout.
Then reflexively I waved, “it’s gone along that way”,
Daddy looked at me amused, “he’s surely gone grey”.
“I will find my baby soon, a few calls will help deduce,
but do help this guy he has, much of his screws loose!
[In pictures: The Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), male, with its baby, a juvenile female.]
– Narendra Nayak © 2019