I’m going to share all the necessary toucan facts for kids including toucan diet, habitat, and behavior. Toucans are the members of Ramphastidae family and are the inhabitants of South America’s tropical rainforests though they are recognized worldwide. These types of birds are closely associated with the American barbets.
With their unmistakable appearance of large-sized colorful beaks, toucans can be easily recognized. There are around 40 different toucan species. The bright colors of toucans offer a natural camouflage to these birds when they’re roosting within the fruit-trees. They apt to communicate with each other by producing different high-pitched sounds. Let’s see some of these beautiful facts about toucans for kids.
Amazing Toucan Facts For Kids
Toucans (Ramphastidae) are medium-sized to large birds. They are highly unique in their strikingly large and colorful bills. Toucans are often seen in small flocks especially during foraging. They are primarily found in South America south to northern Argentina in the tropical and montane rainforest. One species is endangered while the other three are Near Threatened.
- They seem to possess the most brightly colored plumage along with the prominent unusually long bill. The bill is lightweight though. It points with a downcurved tip and serrated edges.
- Yet another toucan’s unique feature is its tongue with a bristly tip.
- Toucans are 13–24 in (33–60 cm) long and weighs up to 4–30 oz (113–850 g).
- Males and females are similar in size and color. Black toucanets (Selenidera) and green aracari (Pteroglossus viridis) are the only species in which male-female difference is quite visible.
- They have four toes; two facing forward while the other two projecting to the back.
- Earlier scientists believed that the bird might use its bill to defend the nest cavity. However as the research carried on, the belief no longer held true. Toucans when threatened come out of the cavity to see off the predator in the open, if at all. The long bill helps it to pluck berries from the branches without leaving in a perch.
- The toucan’s bill is also necessary for the social life and in the pair formation. E. Thomas Gilliard suggests that it serves as a signal. Besides, they also use their bill to see other birds off their abandoned habitats—especially those whose nests they raid. So much so that sometimes small raptors are scared of toucan’s bill.
- Large raptors try to attack toucans while it is in flight because then it is impossible for the bird to use its bill to defend.
- Toucans fly all throughout the tropical South America to as far as northern Argentina. A few species are also seen to fly as far north as Mexico.
- Many species fancy living in lowlands but toucanets (Aulacorhynchus) have home ranges at 8,200 ft (2,500 m) or higher in Central America, and the mountain toucans (Andigena) range 3,900–11,000 ft (1,200 3,350 m) in the South American Andes.
- Columbia hosts the most number of toucans with 21 species are found in this country alone. 17 species inhabits Venezuela, Brazil, and Ecuador.
- Channel-billed toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus) is the only species being found in Trinidad.
- Toucans make homes in tropical and montane rainforest habitats.
- Some true toucans including toucanets and aracaris are known to occupy the secondary vegetation.
- While toco toucans and aracaris are riverine specialists red-breasted (Ramphastos dicolorus) primarily lives in palm savannas.
- Toucans are typically found in small flocks or groups comprising no more than 12 individuals. However preferably they take flight in loose groups and toucans are not so social as other birds.
- Large toucans are not good fliers. Small species such as aracaris are agile birds as they fly swiftly and in a straight line.
- They do not beat their wings all the time during flight; toucans do glide downward and it looks as if they are pulled down by the weight of their bulky bills. For the same reason toucans take a fairly brief flight.
- They are also seen to preen one another especially nape with their large bills.
- When they are asleep, they pull the bill over the back and tip up the tail so that it forms a roof over the back and bill. By doing so, they occupy less space and as it turns out toucans sleep five or six together in rotted hollow tree trunks or in abandoned woodpecker’s holes.
- Toucans are diurnal and they produce many different calls all of which are melodious. They are noisy in the late afternoon when other birds become inactive. Toucans go to rest at night. They also utter after rains or during early morning hours.
- Toucans fancy staying high up in trees so much so that they take bath in rainwater pools on a thick branch.
- Toucans usually avoid competition and their ranges seldom overlap.
- Most species stay in their home range all year-round with the exception of montane toucans which are known to migrate seasonally; moving upslope in spring and downslope in fall. The lowland species gather in huge flocks in the breeding season when fruits are scarce.
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- Toucans are active foragers in the forest canopy. They primarily feed on fruits and flowers.
- Prominent among the fruits are palms (such as Mauritia, Euterpe, Oenocarpus), nutmeg (Virola), figs (Ficus), guava (Psidium), red pepper (Capsicum fructescens), and other fruits such as Casearia corymbosa, Cecropia, Didymopanax, Phytolacca, Rapanea, and Ehretia tinifolia.
- While much of toucan’s diet is composed of fruits they also eat small mammals such as bats along with birds and bird eggs. Insects also form the essential part of their diet and this includes crickets, spiders, cicadas, and termites. Small invertebrates include lizards and snakes.
- Toucans drink water from epiphytic bromeliads and they never come down to the ground to drink from a pool or stream.
- Toucans that raid nests to feed on chicks or eggs are often surrounded by the other birds.
- As they grow in size toucans become less and less specialized in their diet. As a group they are predominantly frugivorous. They eat 96.5% fruits.
- While gulping they jerk the head back whilst the bill is open. They hold larger lumps of food with their foot and tear it apart with the bill.
- The average clutch size consists of two to four elliptical white eggs. But there can be as many as six eggs in a single clutch.
- The eggs are as heavy as 5% of the entire weight of the bird.
- Depending on species incubation lasts 18 days. Both parents incubate.
- Toucans build nests high above the ground; the smaller species fancy using woodpecker holes while the larger toucans prefer using natural cavities in rotted trees.
- Chestnut-eared aracaris species will nest in abandoned tree-termite nests.
- At times they do drive away woodpeckers from newly-made holes and then make the entrance larger if it is narrow.
- The hole has a 3–8 in (8–20 cm) wide floor below the opening. Toucans are likely to lay their eggs in the same hole after year. A female typically lays eggs on wood debris or on seed pellets.
- The hatchlings display red featherless skin when they are born.
- Both parents feed the young; sometimes they carry food in their bill but mostly they bring it in the throat and regurgitated at the nest.
- Toucans keep their nests clean almost all the time. The feathers do not grow until after a month of their birth.
- The young will open their eyes after when three weeks old. The young of large toucans do leave the nest until 50 days of birth. When they leave the nest the young feed themselves in the next 8 – 10 days.