Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco)

When you think of camouflage, a brightly colored Toco Toucan probably doesn’t come to mind. Yet, in the surrounding of the rainforest, this magnificently beautiful birds bright colors blend with its surroundings quite well. Predators mistake the bright colors for flowers or fruit as the bird sits quietly high in a tree.

The Toco Toucan, only one of thirty-seven different species of toucans, makes its home in the rainforests from Bolivia to Guiana and northern Argentina. This colorful bird lives in the canopy layer of these forests. It will not live in open places, but is often seen nearby human dwellings.

The large beak of the Toco Toucan is perfect for picking the fruit that it so enjoys. It uses this built in tool to skin the fruit it eats as well as to scoop up water. Although the beak looks aggressive, it doesn’t make a very good weapon.

The two foot tall Toco Toucan is the largest of all toucan species. Its eight inch long beak is a beautiful deep orange and sports a large black spot near the tip. The orange coloring also surrounds the eye area and a white area covers its throat. The bright orange and white coloring of its head and beak are accents to the deep black of its plumage. Two toes of its great scaly feet point ahead, while two point behind. This gives the Toco Toucan the ability to grasp branches.

A baby Toco Toucan shows very little resemblance to its beautiful parents. Blind and naked, the small bird’s lower beak protrudes over the upper beak. Slowly the young bird will grow into its adult beauty. Both parents spend a great deal of time tending to the babies for about six weeks when the young will leave the nest.

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Toco Toucans are very noisy birds. Their calls can be hear for half a mile. These birds are also very playful, and enjoy a good “beak-wrestling” match – especially with a bird of the opposite sex. This often leads to another game of tossing fruit to one another, and finally mating.

Did you know?

The Toco Toucan is carved onto tribal totem poles and is believed that it can be used by medicine men to fly to the spirit world.

Some tribes have a superstition that if a father eats or touches a toucan that his newborn child will be cursed.

This bird is often captured to be sold in pet stores where it is sold for about $300.00.

Kellogg’s cereal has a Toco Toucan on its Fruit Loop boxes.

Further Information on the Toco Toucan:

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Bernard, Hans-Ulrich. (August 1, 2002). Insight Guide Amazon Wildlife (Amazon Wildlife, 4th ed.). London. Insight Guides.

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