The Hidden Hornbills of PGI Campus!!…

Aaryan Bhalla
6 min readOct 6, 2023


By Aaryan Bhalla

Discover the beauty of Oriental Pied Hornbills at the PGI Hospital campus in Chandigarh. Keep an eye out for these charismatic Oriental pied hornbills and appreciate the beauty of nature right in the heart of the city.😉

This magnificent bird adds vibrancy to the surroundings.
A closeup with its colorful feathers & unique huge beak.

Birding was getting boring now! Nothing new, No lifers, checklists were full of Babblers and MynasEbird too was asking even recording something new in the area! But is this end? 🥱 No! We know it’s the Passion which never ends. As per I say, Luck & Patience are the 2 Basic Keys to Birding- “Dhundhte Raho dost, kuch na kuch toh zaroor Milega!” 🤔

From where did they came from?

A male hornbill — It’s quite a treat to see them in an urban setting like this.

But, One sudden day you check your dad’s phone open the gallery and see the pics of A pied Hornbill which is quite less in number in Tricity 🙈 What your reaction would be? That was mine! 😲 You get more excited when you get that they are daily visitors there! You are dying to capture them… But, you’re having your chem. exam which sucks! 😭📖

Female has a smaller casque with more black marks.

The Oriental Pied Hornbill — Guys! I must say bird (hornbill) which the birders generally really die for. 😯 Being such an ‘Eid Ka Chaand’, they cannot be freely/frequenty seen, though are Resident.

A Cellphone click by my Dad!

Watch as my dad captures this incredible moment and shares I shared it with the birding communities of my known. 😏☺️This species is rarely found in this area, making it a truly special sighting in the trees of Peepal and Gular of Hospital. You can’t go to see them? no problem, you send your birder friends to have a look at them. 😁📷

The Male in Natural Habitat, have a yellow bill and casque with a partly black patched mandible.

That’s an incredible find! Oriental pied hornbills are not commonly seen in the Chandigarh tricity area, so I must add my dad’s discovery is quite remarkable, that even at PGI Hospital campus are a sight to behold too. 😊

The Detailed Closeup of the Hornbill with a red Iris and its huge horn!
Only a few of the birds including pied hornbill have eyelashes.

They have been a frequent sight by the Doctors and staff at PGI at different locations like Punjab university Botanical Garden, Behind Library, Behind Administrative Block, APC Staff Parking, Behind Nehru Hospital, Research Block A etc.

The bird showing its beak which is much greater than the Indian Grey Hornbill.
Bird on the Peepal Tree!

Regardless of all the things- Since, the Nagar Van has been converted into a Captivated cage so called “Aviary”, 😕😞 they are not much seen there. Otherwise Kaimbwala Road, Sukhna Nature Trail, and road to Rock Garden were their good Spots to have a glance upon them! 🧐

Male sun basking in the sunshine of sunlight!

1,2,3… And In

They feed on a variety of fruits, dispersing the seeds as they move from tree to tree. This helps in the natural regeneration of the forest. This Male foraging on the Peepal tree fruits, especially the ripen ones.

Step 1: Look and identify
Step 2: Pluck it and throw in the air
Step 3: Grab it, directly into mouth.

Series of images explaining how do they pluck and eat fruits. Hornbills are predominantly frugivores. They have a particular fondness for figs, but they will also eat a wide range of other fruits such as berries, Their diet can vary depending on the 🌱 availability of food in their habitat.

These hornbills are important seed dispersers for many fruiting trees because they often eat fruit and then deposit the seeds in different locations. 🗺️📍

Bird with a ‘Helmet’!!…

Male in Flight showing The tail is black with white tips on all the feathers except the central feathers.

We were waiting under the Peepal Tree, when I saw a person clicking photographs under a tree. I became curious, and there they were doing their Matargashti and Sharaaratein, tree to tree & branch to branch! 🌳

The female was hitting the glass of Cardio. Department countinuously with its big beak again and again, because they were seeing 🪩 themselves in reflection of the glass.

The Sweeper men and construction workers said that they’re commonly sighted by doctors and these are resident here they called the “Helmet Bird” 🪖😂, their presence was quite normal for them, but not for us. The shutter of camera didn’t spotted for even a single second. 📸

For the Bird I went to Sukhna nature trail more than almost 20 times, was in front of me. Their presence in an urban area like the PGI Hospital campus is a testament to the importance of preserving green spaces for wildlife even in urban environments. 💚😇

Love ‘n’ Affection 😘😍

Feeding Ritual: One of the most distinctive behaviors is the male's feeding ritual.
Gentle pecking, or beak-touching as part of their bonding and courtship rituals, biting as a display of affection

A male will stay true to his mate for life. The hornbill has therefore become a symbol of enduring, known for their fascinating courtship and bonding behaviors. They are a close knitted Bird. 😙🥰

Hornbills are more likely to engage in behaviors like vocalizations, mutual grooming, and nest-building to strengthen their bond.

The Male hornbills offered food to show his love and affection to the female that forms strong pair-bonds, and mate compatibility is thought to be important. 🤗🙃

Mutual Grooming: Mutual grooming is another common behavior.
These behaviors collectively contribute to the affection and love that Oriental pied hornbills display toward their mates, reinforcing their partnership

Shall we Conclude?

Birding is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate and learn more about these magnificent birds and the local ecosystem they inhabit.

Seeing a pair of Oriental pied hornbills in an urban environment like PGI Hospital in Chandigarh suggests that there might be suitable habitat and food sources for them in and around the vicinity.

The Females giving pose on the Gular Tree (Cluster Fig.)
The usually grove on the mangoes and figs only.

It’s great that the birders were informed about this sighting to document and appreciate this rare occurrence. Observations like these contribute to our understanding of Rare species as well as local ♻️🤝 biodiversity. Let’s come together to protect and preserve these amazing birds for future generations to enjoy.

The Exclusive Pair being perched upon a dead tree: Male (Left) & Female (Right).

Take a moment to appreciate the wonders of nature in unexpected places. Share this breathtaking sight with your friends and let them experience the hidden and rare treasures of Chandigarh too. Enjoy the diversity of our world! 🦅🪶🪽


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May we hear the birdsong Forever!!
Happy Birding!!…

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Aaryan Bhalla

Nature and birds Lover, Traveller, & musician..☺️☺️