INDIAN GREY HORNBILL or Nattuvezhambal or Ocyceros birostris

 

Indian Grey Hornbill , Nattu vezhambal

Indian Grey Hornbill , Nattu vezhambal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the payment for blowing horns?  The cross word puzzle goes like this.      Answer is Horn bill.

\Many myths  and stories are woven around Horn bills throughout the world..In Kerala Vezhambal suggests the endless  waiting for rain. People believe that they cant drink water directly like other birds but they can  gulp water from the rain when it falls. The truth is that hornbills are mainly fruit eaters They obtain the water that they need entirely from their diet of fruits. there is no need to drink water.Hornbills swallow most of their food whole instead of breaking it down first.They actively hunt and eat insects, lizards, snakes and even nestling birds.

VEZHAMBAL OR KATTOTAN CHATHAN

VEZHAMBAL OR KATTOTAN CHATHAN

Because of this belief—which is likely tied to the fact that in many regions, hornbills appear just before the long rains come—rain-doctors will sometimes ritualistically kill the birds in times of drought, attaching a stone to the body and throwing it into a  pool in the river. According to myth, the birds are so smelly and unclean that they make even the lakes and rivers sick; sending rain is the only way the water can purify itself of these foul creatures, by washing them out to sea.Because of this belief—which is likely tied to the fact that in many regions, hornbills appear just before the long rains come—rain-doctors will sometimes ritualistically kill the birds in times of drought, attaching a stone to the body and throwing it into a  pool in the river. According to myth, the birds are so smelly and unclean that they make even the lakes and rivers sick; sending rain is the only way the water can purify itself of these foul creatures, by washing them out to sea.

 

GREY HORNBILL

GREY HORNBILL

 

 

 

 

 

Tribals threaten the great Indian hornbill by hunting it for its various parts. The beaks and head are used in charms.  Horn bill flesh is believed to be medicinal. Young birds are considered a delicacy.Tribesmen in parts of northeastern India and Borneo use the feathers for head-dresses, and the skulls are often worn as decorations.The Sema Nagas consider the flesh unfit for eating, believing that it produces sores on their feet, as in the bird. When dancing with the feathers of the hornbill, they avoid eating vegetables, as doing so is also believed to produce the same sores on the feet. Among the Zomi, a festival without a hornbill feather is incomplete.Members of the Nyishi community, who reside in the forests around Pakke Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh), use the beak and casque of hornbills, especially the Great Hornbill, in their traditional headgear; besides, they also eat the meat and use the fat. Hornbills are hunted in some areas while they are losing their forest habitat rapidly.

 rrrey hornbill at choolannur peacock sanctuary.

grey hornbill at choolannur peacock sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conservation programmes have attempted to provide tribes with feathers from captive hornbills and ceramic casques to substitute for natural ones.

Many cultures across the world consider the bird as sacred. In some African tribes killing a horn bill is considered  as a  grave sin as a murder. If you kill a horn bill, that will bring down deluge so that you may wash your hands  away in punishment.

Hornbills are known as the ‘farmers of the forest’ as they eat fruits and disperse seeds far and wide helping the trees spread. Unfortunately, nest trees are cut down for timber and the birds themselves are often hunted. Hornbills have large beaks and some species have an ornamental structure called ‘casque’ on their heads, which looks a bit like a helmet.

hornbill casque

hornbill casque

. Hornbills are hunted in some areas while they are losing their forest habitat rapidly.Besides being harbingers of rain (needed or otherwise), the creatures are considered accurate predictors of wealth. The spots where they feed are thought to be the best places to raise cattle, and are often sought out when new country is being settled. If a hornbill lands near your home, however, beware: unless it’s quickly chased off, a family member is sure to die The stories runs like this..,.

The word horn bill may be derived from the curved horn shaped beaks.the .other peculiar structure that differentiate the word are casque a projection or enlargement  on the beaks of some kind of birds.  It has been called kattodam in Kerala that means vessel holding waterHornbills were cursed to carry kattodams with water  though they were not able to drink even  a drop.  it has been called Kattodan chathan in Kerala .Indian grey horn bill has grey feathers and white grey body.The male has a larger casque on the  dark bill.The casque is pointed.Grey hornbills usually stay on trees.They come down very rarely  only to pick up fallen fruits.The horn bills are found in pairs or in small groups.when they take off the flapping sound of wings draw our attention. It makes a call which is very similar to that of Black kite..A squealing call..Their iris is red as in the picture.

GREY HORNBILL

GREY HORNBILL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  breeding  season is April to June and the number of eggs varies from one to five. They are  very symmetrical white eggs. Indian grey hornbills usually nest in tree hollows on tall trees.During the breeding season, the female hornbill finds a suitable cavity inside the trunk of a large tree to lay eggs in. The female enters the nest hollow and seals the nest hole, leaving only a small vertical slit through which the male feeds her.. The regrowth of the female’s feathers coincides with the maturity of the chicks, at which point the nest is broken open.From then on, for a couple of months, the male bird brings in the food for the family…. until the chicks are ready for flight. I

Hornbills  symbolize  the importance of family ties, of the family system .Hornbills are usually the monogamous(a rarity among birds). Vezhambal is glorified for it’s commitment towards it’s family.

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