The Malabar Pied Hornbills, which are a resident of the Western Ghats, have been spotted on the premises of Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL).
A spokesperson of MRPL said in a release on Monday: “A rare congregation of nearly 50 Malabar Pied Hornbills was observed on the MRPL premises on September 19 at around 7 am Many of them were still in the green canopies of the MRPL refinery complex and the MRPL township on October 3.”
“With the beginning of the winter birding season, MRPL awaits the arrival of its winged guests for the season. The Malabar Pied Hornbills spotted are among the first guests this year,” the spokesperson said.
Hornbills are said to have a crucial role in dispersing seeds of tropical trees and hence are called as ‘forest engineers’ or ‘farmers of the forest.
Nearly 500 acres of a greenbelt developed by MRPL is a haven for flora and fauna of various species. Birds find this large area of green a happy home throughout the year, and during the birding season, it welcomes many new kinds of winged guests.
More than 150 birds are regularly spotted in the refinery complex, township, inside refinery forest, and the water bodies inside the refinery greenbelt. Two White-bellied Sea Eagles visit the refinery on a daily basis, the release said.
Rosy Starlings, European Roller, Siberian Stonechat, varieties of Flycatchers, Buntings, and Wagtails Warblers were regularly spotted inside the refinery complex during the previous migratory seasons, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, a senior birder Lakshminarayana Upadhyaya, who retired as the Head, Department of Zoology, Bhandarkars’ Arts and Science College, Kundapur, told Hindu that a group of about 12 Malabar Pied Hornbills, which were spotted in Hangaluru near Kundapur in Udupi district this July, are still hanging around. “They daily fly to a sapota (or chikku) fruit plantation at Kalavara and return,” he said.
The Malabar Pied Hornbills spotted on the premises of MRPL in Mangaluru. | Photo Credit: special arrangement
“This is the first time I have found them staying for long, for more than two months, since July 20. The Malabar Pied Hornbills have been visiting the coastal belt for long, but in small numbers and stayed for only some days. But their long stay this year is worth noticing,” the zoologist said, adding that he has learned that they are also found near forests in Siddapur in Udupi district.
Mr. Upadhyaya said that crows in the coastal belt disturbed them a lot owing to the Hornbills’ high-pitched calls.