The Neem Tree and a Strange Bird

The Neem and Eucalyptus Tree

It is often strange how a tree can develop a connection with you. Yes it can. Ruskin Bond used to often write about the silence of the night and how it was broken by the rustling of leaves in the wind and some places so silent that the only sounds were the trees and the birds. After staying a year in Mumbai, where the only tree I saw frequently was the decorative Ashoka and the ubiquitous coconut palm, the modest Neem tree was a discovery. Neem, which is distinguished for its medicinal properties by many Indians is given the title of a “useful” tree in our primary textbooks. This particular tree witnessed a host of birds and insects creeping all over it. For shade, protection or food from its Berries.

One day amongst the Mynahs, Parrots and Squirrels which had made this tree their home, there was a strange call of a bird. Many birds fluttered away. Some stayed. Some fell silent.

This bird, I later got to know was a Gray Hornbill. It is around 2 feet long and had camouflaged itself quite well in the grey eucalyptus where It used to stay, but now it was quite evident in the Neem tree. It stayed there for a few minutes and then again was airborne to return back to its home, hidden atop a 30 ft eucalyptus tree.