Family Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Least Concern

Papuan Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)


French: Calao papou German: Papuahornvogel Spanish: Cálao papú
Other common names: Blyth's Hornbill, Papuan Wreathed Hornbill

Buceros plicatus

J. R. Forster

, 1781,



Has been thought to form a species-group with R. subruficollis, and in the past these two frequently considered conspecific. Has also been treated as conspecific with R. narcondami (which see). Several races have been described, from N Moluccas to C New Guinea (ruficollis), E New Guinea (jungei), Bismarck Archipelago (dampieri), W Solomons (harterti) and C & SE Solomons (mendanae), leaving nominate race restricted to populations of S Moluccas; but variation appears to be largely clinal, with overlap in size and colours, and boundaries difficult to define. Monotypic.


N Moluccas (Morotai, Halmahera, Kasiruta, Bacan, Obi), Seram and Ambon through most of New Guinea and adjacent islands (Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta, Gam, Misool, Yapen and D’Entrecasteaux Archipelago) to Bismarck Archipelago (New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover, and perhaps Mussau#R), and E to Solomon Is (Buka, Bougainville, Fauro, Shortland, Choiseul, New Georgia Is, Santa Isabel, Guadalcanal and Malaita).

Descriptive notes

65–85 cm; male 1190–2000 g, female 1500–2000 g. Medium-sized to large black hornbill with short white tail; effectively unmistakable, as is only hornbill... read more


Loud raucous grunts uttered while perched, becoming shorter in alarm, and a continuous honking... read more


Evergreen primary and secondary forest, also extending to deciduous riverine woodland and swamp-... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on fruits, both figs and those of other tree genera, including Varingia grossularia, Arenga saccarifera,... read more


Little known in wild. Probably lays from about Aug–Oct in W to Aug–May in E. Nest in natural hole in forest tree, 15–30 m... read more


No regular movements reported, but in most areas gathers at times at communal roosts of hundreds of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Common in many areas of its wide range; even abundant on larger islands, such as New Britain, with counts of 250 along 20 km of river in... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Papuan Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).