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Toco Toucan

Appearance

The majority of the toco toucan is coloured black. On the throat there is a patch of white plumage. The eye is a black ball surrounded by a thin patch of skin which appears blue. Around the blue area there is a ring of exposed skin which is orange.

One of the most notable features of the toco toucan is its large bill. This bill is around 19cm (7.5in) in size and is comprised of keratin (the same substance as human hair) which makes it very light. The bill has a small black patch next to the body before becoming orange for the majority. At the tip is another black section.

Their beak is the largest relative to body size of any bird.

The toco toucan is the largest toucan species. They measure between 55 and 65cm (22-26inch). The toco toucan weighs 500 to 876g (17.6-30.9oz) in size. The female is generally smaller than the male. These toucans have wings measuring 50-119cm (20-47in).

Diet

The toco toucan is an omnivore. They live on a diet of fruit, insects, eggs, lizards, young birds, berries and nuts.

Range

Toco toucans come from South America. They can be found throughout the majority of this continent as well as Central America and some Caribbean islands.

They can be found in the following countries, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.

toco toucan

Scientific Name

Ramphastos toco

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Height

55-65cm (22-26in)

Weight

500-876g (17.6-30.9oz)

Wingpsan

50-119cm (20-47in)

Lifespan

12-20 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Habitat

The toco toucan enjoys a habitat of open forests. They live in woodland, savannahs and other open areas. This adaptation means they have adapted well to the deforestation taking place in South America.

Reproduction

Breeding for the toco toucan varies throughout its range. Courtship involves the male and female tossing fruit between each other.

The nest is normally built in a tree but some have been recorded in earth banks and termite mounds.

A few days after the pair mate two to four eggs are deposited in the nest. Both members of the pair will sit on the nest till hatching occurs 17-18 days later. It takes at least 3 months for the chicks to reach adult size.

Sexual maturity is achieved by 4 years old.

Behavior

Toucans are normally solitary especially when they are feeding. Occasionally they will be found of groups of 6-7.

The toucans bright plumage is used a means of camouflage in the dappled sunlight of the rainforest.

The toco toucans vocalizations sounds like the croaking of a frog.

This species is preyed upon by large birds of prey, big cats and humans. The eggs of this species are taken by weasels, snakes and rats. Many small species are intimated by the large bill of this species.

They are not adept flyers and will instead move from tree to tree by hopping.

The large bill is used for grabbing food off of trees and for heat exchange. Blood flow to this area can be regulated which controls the heat of the body. Young toucans can be observed with the bill under their wings. This is believed to be as heat control does not develop till later in life.

Quick facts

The toco toucan is a popular pet which is regularly kept around the world

Indigenous people of South America believe the toucan is a conduit between living people and the spirits. In some parts of their range they are considered an incarnation of the devil and it is believed that if a father eats a toucan it can bewitch their child.

Photo Credits

Top

By Jf1911jf1911 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

By gipe25 uploaded by benjli (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gipe25/3553590854/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

References

Behmke, S. 2011. "Ramphastos toco" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 21, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Ramphastos_toco/

BirdLife International 2017. Ramphastos toco (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22682164A113557535. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22682164A113557535.en. Downloaded on 22 April 2020.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/t/toco-toucan/. 2020. Toco Toucan | National Geographic. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/t/toco-toucan/> [Accessed 22 April 2020].

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