Bill Shady

Creative description of grey hornbill

Bill Shady is a ‘grey area’ for the photographer who pursues him. He hoists himself up the farthest canopy of the tallest trees, and because he’s active when the light is harsh, he loves to rest in shade, thus demanding from the camera a dynamic range twice that of the human eye. He has a long snout that looks like somewhere between a pair of gardening scissors and a pachyderm’s horn. His eponymous bill, as a result, achieves the singular feat of being almost as long as the bill my aunt incurs weekly at the grocer’s, shopping profligately for critical inessentials. He uses his bill to do some day-long berry-picking as he hops from one high branch to another and flies between trees with a flight pattern whose genesis seems to lie in wonderland. It is therefore entirely vindicated to call him a Malabar Grey Hornbill, but that would be like calling Bruce Willis an ‘American White Ballhead’. Like his African relative, the Ground Hornbill, he has long eye-lashes – long enough to cast a shadow on his large eyes, and because of this fixation with bill and shade, here’s whom I call Bill Shady from Amboli.

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