20+ Interesting Facts About Toucans

  1. Toucans are arboreal birds of the Neotropical Region. They are particularly famous for their long and colorful bills.
  2. There are nearly 40 species of toucans. Aracaris and toucanets are also part of this bird family. They are present in Central and South America.
  3. The closest relatives of toucans are New World barbets and woodpeckers. They resemble hornbills, native to Asia and Africa, but both birds are unrelated and belong to different orders.
  4. Toucans usually inhabit the canopy of rainforests and rarely visit the forest floor layer. They live in nests on treetops and use abandoned nests of woodpeckers or natural holes in tree cavities for this purpose.
  5. All toucan species are non-migratory except mountain toucans. These birds inhabit the highest altitude among toucans in the Andes Mountains. They move up and down the mountains in different seasons to collect available fruits.
  6. The most prominent feature of toucans is their colorful bills, which could be one-third of their body length. Despite their heavy appearance, these bills have lightweight bones covered with keratin – the building material of human fingernails and hairs. Longer bill in males is their only prominent difference from female toucans.
  7. Toucans have the largest bills per body size among birds. These bills assist in regulating temperature when the body becomes hot. Toucans with the longest beak are also the most social. One disadvantage of this big bill for birds is the difficulty of removing ticks from their bodies. (Source
    Four toucans of different species on tree branches
    Large colorful bills provide several benefits to toucans

  8. Apart from releasing heat during hot weather, toucans also use their bills to conserve heat during winter and while sleeping. Unlike many birds and similar to most mammals, toucans drop their body temperature while sleeping to preserve energy. It initially heats the bill, later cools it down to reach sleeping temperature, and then prevents unwanted heat loss by placing the bill under its feathers. (Source)
  9. The large bill provides several other advantages to the bird. Toucans use them to reach far and deep fruits in trees. It is also helpful in scaring predators and attracting potential mates.
  10. Colorful bill and body provide camouflage to toucans in their environment. They can easily blend in dense rainforests that protect them from predators.
  11. The toco toucan is the largest species, measuring up to 24 inches long and weighing up to 1.9 pounds. The tawny-tufted toucanet is the smallest, with a length of 12.5 inches, while the lattered aracari (3.4 ounces) is the lightest species.
  12. The favorite food of toucans is fruits. However, many species add animal food, such as eggs, insects, frogs, snakes, fish, and small mammals.
  13. Toucans have a long and narrow tongue that they use alongside the long beak in catching difficult-to-reach fruits. The tongue also assists in tasting the food before swallowing.
  14. During the toucan courtship behavior, the male presents a nut or a large seed as a gift to the female. If she accepts the gift, the pair sometimes throws it back and forth as a mating ritual.
  15. Female toucans lay two to four eggs in their nests during spring. Both males and females incubate eggs for over two weeks. Newborns are born blind, naked, and without long bills. They rely on their parents for three weeks and can live independently after 45 days.
  16. Toucans play a vital role in the diversity of the forest habitat. They eat fruits of different varieties and disperse seeds of various plants in their diet.
  17. Toucans are among the noisiest birds in forest habitats. They produce several types of sounds during their loud calls. Some of these resemble calls of other animals, such as dogs, frogs, etc. These calls are meant to recognize other birds of the same species, inform the group about a food source, or warn other birds about predators.
  18. Toucans are one of the most popular birds in the world. Tucana, a constellation in the southern sky, is named after this forest bird. The keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize.
  19. Toucans look awkward while flying. It is due to their large bills, long tails, and short rounded wings. Due to the size and shape of their wings, they flap more than many other flying birds during flight.
  20. Toucans are social birds that live in small flocks. These groups may contain 20 or more individuals of multiple species. They usually forage together in the forest.
  21. Toucans can live for up to 18 years in captivity. Their estimated lifespan in the wild is 20 years or even more.
  22. The natural predators of toucans are birds of prey (hawks, forest eagles, and owls), wild cats (margays and jaguars), and boas. Toucans use their large bills and loud voices to scare off predators.

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