Toucan (Toco) / Ramphastos toco

Did you know...

The toucan’s bill may be very large but it is also very light

It is made of a thin sheath of keratin (a protein) over thin hollow bones

When sleeping toucans turn and rest their beaks on their backs

Toucans are relatively poor fliers and often move by hopping around in the trees

The toco toucan is the largest and most widely distributed member of the toucan family. Like all toucans it is easily recognisable by its large and colourful beak. It is found in the moist forests throughout central and eastern South America where it often lives in small flocks numbering 6-7 birds.

The toucan has small wings as it lives in the forests and therefore does not need to travel long distances. The wingspan is roughly the same length as the toucan’s body, and although the toucan is able to fly, it is not a very good at flyer and cannot be in the air for ong. Instead of using their wings to get around, the toucan hops between the tree branches using its curved toes and sharp claws to get a good grip on the trees.

Toco toucans feed on a range of fruits, such as figs which it plucks from the trees with its large beak. Toucans will also come down to the forest floor to feed on fallen fruit. They will also eat insects, frogs, small reptiles, eggs and nestling birds, especially during their breeding season.

Nesting time varies across the toucan’s distribution. Toucans become mature and start to breed at 3-4 years. The nest is built in a hole high up in a tree. The female lays 3-4 eggs per clutch and these are incubated for between 16 and 20 days. Young toucans are fully fledged after 8-9 weeks.

Toco toucans are thought to be reasonably numerous across their range and although the population is decline due to habitat loss they are not considered endangered.