LAHORE : Sighting an Indian hornbill, a rare and nearly extinct bird, on a busy road gave an exciting feeling and the first thought came to mind that this creature is really living with us in the provincial metropolis.
An Indian hornbill sitting on a big Jaman (jamul) tree on Canal Bank Road opposite GOR attracted a number of motorists who parked their bikes and cars along the road to sight the unusual and unexpected appearance of the bird. The bird, probably a male one, was sitting on a branch of a big tree and a nearby hole in the trunk suggesting that it was his home.
Rapid urbanisation of the provincial capital has emptied the skies and presently the most commonly seen birds in the city including common house sparrows, pigeons, bulbuls, doves, mynas, crows and kites.
According to WWF-Pakistan, grey hornbill is termed ‘species of concern’ as their numbers are rapidly declining. Environmental experts said a bird survey done in 1965 revealed that 240 bird species live in Lahore while another survey in 1992 revealed that out of 240 species, only 101 bird species remained and recent individual surveys revealed that only 30 to 50 species were living in Lahore.
Experts said female Indian grey hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) sits on eggs and the male bird gives her pellets of mud with which she seals herself into the cavity along with her excreta, so that only her beak came outside and the male flies to and fro, feeding her through the incubation period. They said open hole suggested that there were no eggs in it.
This scribe also stood by the tree and watched the rare sight. It was very heartening to feel that Indian grey hornbill is still being found in this overcrowded city, especially on one of its busiest roads. Bird experts in the city said that the Indian grey hornbill was one of the native birds of Lahore but with time their population is reduced a lot and not only a few pair of the birds lives in the city.