Animal Awareness Tip – Toco Toucan

Maideline Sanchez

Toco Toucans are by far the largest birds in the toucan family, containing massive hollow multicolored bills. They mostly reside in Central and South America. The airy, honeycombed, bone structure allows them to easily carry weight while they maneuver their heads around to catch their prey or collect fruit. Toco Toucans are mainly identified by their black feathered bodies, white throat and chest, and red undertail feathers.

Their eyes consist of thin blue rings around their outer edge, which in turn, are surrounded by rings of orange bare skin. Toucans’ diets consist of fruit, insects, frogs, small reptiles, and small birds. They are considered poor flyers, alternating between gliding and short rapid flaps, due to their small rounded wings.

One of the main functions of toucans’ bills, especially for males, is to attract females. Before mating, they will often perform a fruit toss as a mating ritual. Females will search for a tree to lay their eggs after several days. The nesting chambers of toucans are never lined, however, the eggs usually rest upon a few chips of rock and regurgitated seeds of multiple sizes. Both parents will contribute to the incubation of their offspring usually switching every hour. After 16 days of incubation offspring will hatch blind and featherless. They are fed fruit by both parents until they are about 8 weeks old when they are able to care for themselves.

Did You Know?

A Toucan’s bill is made of keratin, the same structural material that makes up our fingernails. Also, their tongues are completely flat and may reach a length of 6 inches.