The Visitors

Last Friday, just as we were deciding what to do for dinner, I happened to see a giant shadow outside our window from the corner of my eye.  When I turned to see what it was, I was startled to find a large hornbill looking straight at me.  In my excitement, I incoherently tried to get T's attention who went bounding off for his camera as soon as he took one look outside.  As it turned out, it was a pair of hornbills, one male and one female, whom we chased down the street for the next 15 minutes in pursuit of the perfect shot.  I'm sure we looked like a pair of foolish foreign tourists to the Kenyans that passed us by on their way home from work.  Still, I have no regrets.  As is the case any time I run across wildlife in Africa, it felt astonishingly surreal.  I don't know if it was the bird's size (it seemed to be just under 3 feet), or it's crazy prehistoric look, or just the fact that I was actually seeing something I'd only seen on the Lion King but there was definitely something unnerving about the whole experience.  Later, we did a little wildlife detective work, using google to identify our evening visitors.  Based on our photo matches, we suspected that they were Silvery-cheeked Hornbills.  According to Wikipedia, they are "large birds at 75 to 80 centimeters (30-31 in) in length" - check.  "...with a very large creamy casque on the beak"- check.  They reside in East Africa - check.  And they usually live in pairs - check.   With that folks, I think we can safely say, this case is closed.  


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