This astounding picture of a pair of Malabar Pied Hornbills Anthracoceros coronatus was shot by wildlife photographer Sachin Rai.
Sachin spotted the duo late one evening in Dandeli, where flocks of hornbills are known to congregate to feed, copulate and roost in the trees before dusk descends.
Flying close to each other, the two birds - evidently of the same sex - suddenly turned and locked beaks mid-air, the spectacular show lasting for less than a second when this image was captured!
Though not much is known about this behavior, it is thought that these two birds are locked in an act of pre-roosting behavior. In scientific literature, this behaviour is known as casque-butting, believed to be a form of dominance display or playful chase or a pre-breeding interaction between adults birds. Also reported in other species like the great pied hornbill, such behaviour only adds to the fascination of these already enchanting birds.
This image won Sachin Rai the Sanctuary Asia - ABN Amro Award.