Years ago I used to watch an animated tv series called the Wild Thornberries with my son Sunith. A show about a little girl called Eliza Thornberry who travels the world with her famous nature show host parents and falls into exciting wildlife adventures.
On one such show the Thornberries were on an expedition somewhere in India hoping to film a species of a rare Hornbill. In the episode they were camped out in the forest clearing near some huge trees laden with wild fruit that the Hornbill loves to eat.
This episode stayed with me and when I first started planting trees at Native Place I looked for species that attracted birds. I had imagined the whole thing unfolding in front of my eyes. Planting the trees…watching them grow and bear fruit… the birds arriving to nest and feast on the fruit
Much later I got to know that the Hornbill’s loved to eat wild figs. This was amazing to me - they loved the fruit of the one lone large specimen i.e. the Umbar tree that existed in Native Place garden. I quickly jumped to the happy conclusion that since we have an Umbar (wild fig) in the garden that fruits copiously we should be graced with Hornbills. Rather simplistic thinking considering that these noisy, social, omnivorous birds need large tropical forest areas with many fruiting trees throughout the year to survive. But there were forests in the hills around and so I continued to have hope. A couple of years ago we spotted our first pair of Hornbills in the garden and soon they became a regular sighting in the Native Place garden.
I put a picture up a few weeks ago on facebook and Anand Pendharkar congratulated us as the Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) is an indicator of intact forests and deserves conservation attention.
We are so grateful for our beautiful Umbar tree and all the denizens in the garden that it supports and nurtures.
Shine on Umbar tree!
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings