Beginning of this summer, in March, two chicks emerged out of their nests almost simultaneously. The difference in their sizes became immediately apparent and fascinating. One set of parents had dug a hole in the trunk of a tree, whereas the other had a ready-made hole, which the parents sealed for security of the chick. They inspired me to do some sketches and paintings of the nests and the birds.
Hornbill at the nest
Both the set of parents made several trips to the nest with feed throughout the day.
Hornbill Pair study – watercolour painting
On 18th March a grey hornbill chick emerged from its nest hole in a large Spathodia tree, after digging itself out and throwing out a lot of debris.
Barbets – Watercolour painting on Arches paper
The much smaller coppersmith chick peeked out of its smaller nest hole a couple of days later, looking around so innocently.
In a couple of days it was already imitating the Coppersmith call , although in a much softer and sweeter tone.
Coppersmith barbet young
Watching these two nests had become a very happy part of my day and continues to be.
I noticed the coppersmith digging a hole for the nest in a decaying branch of a large Pangara tree or the Indian coral tree , outside my window, in January 2018. Apparently, the female prepares the hole for the nesting. She was doing it with much aplomb, that it was really fascinating to watch; lots of hammering of the strong beak in the branch and equal amount of shaking of her tail.
The Peepal tree and a ficus tree close by were favorite perches for both the male and female.
The new Hornbill
The grey hornbills were so noisy that I could not have missed them even if I wanted to; Their cackles and screams making them very noticeable. They fed the chick through the slit several times through the day. They can camouflage themselves so well despite their large size and almost prehistoric looks. When the chick came out looking as innocent as the coppersmith chick, It was a very euphoric feeling.
Both the sets of parents fed their chicks the same fruits off a fruiting fig tree nearby. I couldn’t help but notice the similarities and dissimilarities between the two species.
Having spent so much time watching the two families, I felt lost once the chicks flew away. Looking forward to more nestlings and more paintings to do.