Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Slice of Life Tuesday: Birdtober Day Five: Hornbill


There are about 55 species of hornbills in the world ("about" because there is some controversy over how the species should be split). They can be found in Africa, Asia, and Melanesia.

I had a lot of fun writing my hornbill poem. I didn't specify one hornbill species, but wrote it more generally. At the end you can see my sources.
I asked my friend Joanie Engeman Tomlin for permission to use one of her amazing photos in tomorrow's post, and she graciously offered me more photos, too, so you can see some of hers here, and you'll see them again for upcoming birds!

Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, from West Africa
Photo Source: eBird

Great Southern Hornbill, in South Africa
Photo by Joanie Engeman Tomlin


Why must you always, always broach my bill?
I know it is spectacular, but chill,
My eyelashes are also fit to kill,
The sounds I make will always bring a thrill,
The oldest one of me was 19 mill
-ion years ago, and look, I am here still!
And yet it always comes back to my bill,
Made of an ivory folks like to carve until
It makes a gorgeous netsuke - that’s brill
For samurai, but not for me; it will
Involve my death. I have more facts to spill
But once again, you’re speaking of my bill.
Some species bear the name of “rhino,” bitter pill
For one so beautiful. There’s no ill-will
From me to you, but my task is uphill
To get respect without becoming shrill.
Take notice of my other traits: my skill
At nesting in a hollow tree, my finding food abil
-ity, my way of caring for my babies - all these fill
My mind, and yet you only know my bill.
Why must you always, always broach my bill?
I tell you, I am more than just my bill.

©Ruth Bowen Hersey
Yellow-billed Hornbill in South Africa
Photo by Joanie Engeman Tomlin


 Rhinoceros Hornbill from Malaysia
Photo Source: eBird



Denise Krebs said...

Ruth, wow. What a bird! I can see indeed why you loved writing that fun poem. My goodness, the enjambment and the breaking up of million and abilities is just so clever. I could hear the bird talking throughout. Thanks for sharing more about this bird that truly does make most of us only think of its bill!

Michelle Kogan said...

Love the voice and humor in your poem Ruth, and Ah what a wonderful bill they all have! I researched the Helmeted hornbill in hopes of writing/drawing on this beautiful and endangered bird, alas time slipped by…

Carol and Richard Varsalona said...

Ruth, for some reason, I can’t leave a comment so I will try again. I felt as though the bird was talking to me in your clever poem. That bill is wonderful so I see why you features it. Share the link on PF this week for others to see.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Carol! I am planning to share links on tomorrow's PF post. Sorry for the problems commenting. Several others have said the same. Comment moderation is enabled, so that may be part of what you're experiencing. Three comments came through from you, but I only posted one of them. :-)