Toucan is the Brazilian name for a bird
of the tropical American family Ramphastidae, characterized by
their huge but light beaks. There are 37 species of these birds
ranging from Mexico to Argentina. Toucans are found only in the
Western Hemisphere. These peculiar birds belong to the order
Piciformes, all of whose members have feet with the first and
fourth toes reversed, and all of which are cavity nesters.
The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) frequents
the rain-forests from Guiana to Bolivia and northern Argentina.
It is 25 inches long and is the largest of the Toucans. The beak,
8 inches long and 3 inches high at the base, is deep orange with
a large black spot near the tip. The eye is surrounded by a bare
orange space; the plumage is black except for the white throat,
edged beneath with red. The tail is nearly square.
The Toco toucan eats mainly fruit and uses
its large bill as a tool for picking it. It also feeds on seeds,
spiders, insects, eggs and an occasional lizard or bird. They
nest in cavities high in forest trees. The eggs are pure white
and the young, hatching naked and blind after 16-18 days, remain
up to six weeks in the nest, cared for by both parents.When it
sleeps, a Toucan turns its head so that its long bill rests on
its back, then folds its long tail neatly over it.
Toucans often gather in large groups and
chatter loudly and noisily, their calls being synchronized with
the fast upward swings of their bills.
For more information on the Toucan, visit
Emerald Forest Bird Gardens.