flowers, crabs, bee honeycombs
New Guinea and surrounding islands
The Papuan hornbill is the only hornbill in New Guinea. Called ‘Kokomo’ in local Tok Pisin language, it is a show stealer. In flight, its wings give off a very loud whooshing
sound. The hornbill also produces loud grunts and honks.
Males have a golden head while females, a black head. Young hornbills look like males but their casques are absent or small with no folds.
The Papuan hornbill nests in a large tree hollow. The female seals herself inside the cavity, plastering the entrance with fruit pulp and rotten wood and leaving just a narrow slit.
Safe inside from predators, she lays one or two eggs. Her mate regurgitates food such as fruits and insects to feed her through the slit. The female remains in the cavity throughout the incubation and nestling period.
The Papuan hornbill is a potent symbol honour and status to the local communities. Some tribes perform rituals in honour of the hornbill before hunting expeditions.
The Asmat people of New Guinea regard the bird as a `bridge’ between this world and afterlife. It is carved on every bis (ancestor spirit) pole to hold the spirit of the recently deceased.