The male hornbill is quite unusual in appearance due to its reddish-orange or golden-yellow plumage that surrounds the head and neck. Females differ by having a black head and neck. Both sexes have a largely black body, except for the contrasting short, white tail, and the bare, bluish-white skin around the eyes and throat. Hornbills also have red eyes, although those of the male are far brighter.
The variety of honking and grunting calls of the Papuan hornbill are believed to have led to reports of this bird laughing. In flight, the sound of its wings is loud and distinctive, a rushing noise that has been compared to the sound of steam escaping from a steam locomotive. Unsurprisingly, considering its rather large size and striking appearance, the Papuan hornbill is said to be a conspicuous bird, which can be seen flying high over the forest, frequently emitting its distinctive call.
These impressive birds are hunted on their native islands for food and as a trophy, and their skulls are sometimes worn as ornaments. Like other hornbills, its diet consists mainly of fruits—especially figs—occasionally supplemented with insects and other small animals.
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