Coraciiformes TAG

Coraciiformes Taxon Advisory Group -

Papuan Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)
SSP Manager: Eric Kowalczyk - Woodland Park Zoo

General Information

The common name in use is Blyth's hornbill. Kemp (1995) notes that the Plain-pouched wreathed hornbill, Aceros subruficollis was once considered conspecific with plicatus. There is uncertainty about the species identification of a few of the older records. Five specimens were recorded as R. plicatus subruficollis. Kemp does not recognize this subspecies. It is unclear whether they were A. plicatus or A. subruficollis. These birds (studbook #1-5) did not reproduce, and have all died. Kemp lists this bird in the genus, Rhyticeros (in del Hoya et al 2001).


Adult male: head and neck rufous; body and wings black; tail white; bill, with casque a series of low wreaths across base, pale yellow, with dark red-brown base and casque; bare circumorbital skin pale blue with flesh colored eyelids forming ring around eye; bare throat skin white with blue tinge; eyes red to red-brown; legs and feet black.

Adult female: similar to male but smaller; head and neck black; eyes brown.

Immature: plumage is similar of adult male for both sexes but casque undeveloped; bill, pale yellow; facial skin pale blue; eyes gray-brown.




Kemp (1995) described 6 subspecies but suggested that they might be one species representing a cline. This species ranges in eastern Indonesia, Papuan New Guinea, and Solomon Islands in primary and secondary forests below 1500 meters. This species is hunted for food and trophies. They are reported to be common in the western part of the range and more vulnerable in the eastern region. Kinnaird and O'Brien (pers. comm.) have recently completed a survey at seven sites on the island of Seram in the North Molluccas. Their preliminary estimates reveal a high hornbill density of 30 birds/sq. km. They note that abundance is most strongly correlated with the density of nesting trees and the density of adult strangler figs. Kemp records that 250 birds were counted along a 20 km. river in Irian Jaya (in del Hoya et al 2001).









Captive Population

Euing (1995) wrote about the breeding of Rhyticeros plicatus jungei at the San Diego Zoo. As these birds were collected in Papua New Guinea, they are identified to subspecies (pers. comm: D. Rimlinger). The other A. plicatus in captivity cannot be accurately listed to subspecies. Macek (1998) wrote a short note about breeding success at Saint Louis Zoo. Nyunt et al (in Lum & Poonswad 2005, pp. 45-50) report on the breeding at Jurong BirdPark in Singapore. Noteworthy, in 2003, a female hatched at the Wildlife Conservation Society from two F1 birds. One male that hatched in 2009 at Lincoln Park Zoo was transferred to Jurong BirdPark in 2010 in trade for a future Wrinkled Hornbill (Aceros corrugatus). In 2010, Lincoln Park Zoo hatched out one male. As of early 2011 there are 58 historical records and there are 6.3.0 birds currently living (housed at 6 institutions) in the studbook.

In 1999, Irena Pavlin from Ljubljana Zoo, Slovenia, published the first edition of the European regional studbook for this species.

Papuan Hornbill Gallery

Papuan Hornbill Bibliography