Hornbills, loyal lovers
In Yingjiang County of west Yunnan’s Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, there are many species of hornbills. They are large in size, with big horn-like bumps on their heads, hence the name. Interestingly, the hornbills are monogamous. Once they find their 'spouses', they will stay together throughout their lives. Therefore, local people consider them loyal lovers.
Ban Dingying is the president of Yingjiang Bird Watching Association. He has been observing the living conditions of birds for a long time. In his eyes, the hornbill is the star of this forest.
Having observed the hornbills for years, Ban knows everything about the big birds. The hornbills mainly feed on fruits, but they occasionally prey on small birds, lizards, snakes and other animals. Actually, the hornbills also help spread the seeds for large plants. "The forests are densely covered with vegetation, and giant trees are everywhere. Only huge hornbills can fly on these treetops and collect plant fruits. After they digest the fruits, the hornbills will discharge the seeds together with their droppings, helping in the reproduction of plants," Ban explained.
From April to July, it is time for the hornbills to court and mate. The male hornbill dances with its wings and hovers over the forest, looking for a desired female bird. It gives out loud noises to draw the attention of a female hornbill. When two birds fall in love, they will fly to the treetop. Then they will touch each other with the beaks and engage in a love talk. More interestingly, the considerate male hornbill will present its lover with some food as a gift.
After mating, they will build a nest in a hole in the tree. When the chicks are hatched, the male hornbill will feed the family and the female hornbill will take care of the young birds in the nest. Just like a loving daddy, the male hornbill will look for food everywhere and bring home.
The favourable ecological environment in Yingjiang provides ideal habitats for hornbills. In fact, many other species of birds also live here. By 2018, 650 species of birds have been spotted and recorded in the county. Taking advantage of the natural resources and beautiful ecosystems, Yingjiang has developed the bird watching tourism, which has in turn promoted the local catering and hospitality industries. Now, many villagers have become full-time bird guides, showing tourists where to find birds and take pictures of them. In recent years, the local people have enhanced the awareness of protecting birds and the environment, turning Yingjiang into a real paradise for birds. (By Duan Jianxin)