Since 2004, Blyth’s hornbill or Papuan hornbill has been listed as Least Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List. It is an Appendix II species according to CITES. Under national regulation, the species is protected under Regulation of Minister of Environment and Forestry No. 20 of 2018.
Eastern Indonesia is home to only one hornbill species, namely Blyth’s hornbill. Its range extends from Papua and Maluku, to neighboring Papua New Guinea and the Solomon and Bismarck Islands.
Although Blyth’s hornbill has great adaptive capabilities, it still needs primary and secondary forests at 1,500 m asl with large trees. Riparian and swamp forests are its preferred habitats for hunting preys.
Blyth’s hornbill measure 60-65 cm in length. Its body is covered in black plumage, including black body and wings and white tail. The male bird has a larger and more colorful beak compared to the female. In addition, male Blyth’s hornbill has white gular pouch, brown head and red eyes. Meanwhile the female has blue gular pouch and black head and eyes.
Blyth’s hornbill’s casque is a small prominence with lines like folds. The number of lines on the casque indicates the bird’s age.
Blyth’s hornbill prefers fruits of palms (Arenga saccarifera), nutmeg (Myristica fatua) and matoa (Pometia pinnata). However, at times it preys on crabs, insects, bee hives and lizards.
In Papua New Guinea, Blyth’s hornbill begins to search for nests on September and October. The female lays one to two eggs in the natural tree hollow inside trees with diameter of more than 40 cm. The species has been observed nesting in 15 m high tree in Seram Island and 30 m high ironwood tree in the Solomon Islands.
Blyth’s hornbill depends on forest areas with large trees and natural tree hollows to nest. Massive forest conversion and poaching since 1984 continue to threaten the species’ existence. They are hunted for consumption and trophy, and its skull is used for ornaments.
In addition to its morphology, the species can be identified from the hiss of its wing flap and its call when flying or perching that sounds like a raspy grunt.