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Toucan

Toucan Facts

Size 13.7-25.5 in (35-65 cm)
Speed Up to 40 mph (64 km/h)
Weight 0.3-1.4 lb (130-680 g)
Lifespan 12–20 years
Food Fruits, eggs, insects
Predators Weasels, big birds
Habitat Central and South America
Order Piciformes
Family Toucans
Scientific name Ramphastidae
Characteristics Huge but very light bill

Main Characteristics

The most striking feature of the toucan is its huge bill. The toucan is often referred to as a parrot, but it does not belong to the parrot family, but to the woodpecker family.

Toco Toucan Toco Toucan - Photo: Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock

Species

There are about 45 species of toucan in many different colors. The best-known species is the giant toucan with its white little “bib”, its black plumage and its yellow bill.

Anatomy and Appearance

Bill

Does the large bill impair the toucan’s mobility? The bill of the toucan is four times as big as its head and can be up to 8 inches (20 cm) long. It appears to be rather heavy, but it is actually very light and hollow. Scientists do not know exactly, why the bird needs such a huge bill – probably to defend itself and to impress the ladies. It is also assumed that toucans can recognize their fellow species by their bills, as each one is uniquely colored. Here you can find more information on the functions of a toucan's bill.


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White-Throated Toucan White-Throated Toucan - Photo: feathercollector/Shutterstock

Distribution and Habitat

Where do toucans live? Generally you will hardly ever come across a toucan in the dense jungle. It lives high up in the trees and uses little tree holes for nesting. What a pity, considering the colorful plumage. Who would not love to admire it?

Senses and Abilities

Flight

The toucan is not very good at flying and thus prefers to hop from tree to tree most of the time.

Sounds

The call of the toucan sounds like the croaking of frogs and can be heard over a distance of 1,640 feet (500 meters).


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Sleep

How do toucans sleep? When sleeping, toucans place their long bill on their back. They snap their tail forward until it touches their head. When curling up like this, they look like a little feather ball.

Collared Aracari Collared Aracari - Photo: Eduardo Rivero/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

Superstition

Some people believe that evil ghosts live inside toucans. In certain religions in South and Central America newly-fledged fathers are not allowed to eat toucan meat, because otherwise a newly-born baby would become bewitched. Some Native American shamans had the toucan as a totem to enter the world of ghosts with them.

Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan - Photo: Eduardo Rivero/Shutterstock


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