The Toucan Bird
All about the actual animal!
• Believe it or not, the Toucan bird has been flying around the Central and South American rainforests for a lot longer than any cereal company.
• Toucans are one of the noisiest jungle birds, with a croak like a frog that can be heard for half a mile!
• The colorful beak of the Toucan is very light! It is made mostly of keratin (like your fingernails), supported with thin rods of bone.
• The Toucan is smart, friendly and cute, and eats fruit, nuts, and berries just like everyone else. In real life, Toucans hate sugary cereal and avoid it like the plague. You probably should, too.
The Toucan Family: Ramphastidae
The toco toucan illustrated here is the largest member of its family, which comprises 37 species. All toucans are inhabitants of South America, though some are found as far north as Mexico.
Here are some additional Toucan Tidbits!
A colorful, gregarious forest bird found from Mexico to Argentina, known for its enormous and colorful bill. They have red, yellow, blue, black or orange plumage, often in vivid patterns, and feed on fruit and berries. They nest in tree holes, laying glossy white eggs (2-4) that are incubated by both parents.
This interesting mythological reference is one of our favorite pieces of Toucan Info!
In Central and South America, the Toucan is associated with evil spirits, and can be the incarnation of a demon. Where couvade (a South American system of magical rite, similar to Haitianvoudou) is practised, the father of a new child must not eat toucan flesh as it might bewitch the new-born child and cause it to fade away.But the Toucan can also be a tribal totem and the medicine man can use it as an incarnation to fly to the spirit world.
One of the more interesting facts was that the toucan bird must be fed a diet that's high in fruit and low in iron, as their metabolism makes them exceptionally prone to hemochromotosis, or iron storage disease.
Breeders and providers of information on Toucans with the world's largest collection. We have bred 10 species for the very first time in captivity and are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The function of their enormous bill has puzzled scientists for a long time. What use is such an instrument? It is not a weapon, the toucan's usual enemies being much too strong to be fooled by even the heftiest bill. It is not a special tool for gathering food, since all toucans are fugivorous, and eat berries, seeds, and ripe fruit. A shorter, more solid bill would do just as well! Some ornithologists think it is simply a distinguishing feature, a visual threat to would-be competitors. But this hypothesis is not very convincing, since the bill of both the male and the female is exactly the same. So the mystery of the toucan's bill remains unsolved!
Toucans are very noisy members of the jungle society, and live in smallish communities, equivalent to several families. They are related to the woodpeckers, and appropriate holes in tree trunks in the same way. One might well ask how a bird like a toucan manages to sleep at the bottom of a tight-fitting hole. Quite simply, it bends double; the beak is twisted round and rests on its back, its tail is folded up on to its breast, its wings wrap round the rest of its body - and voila! A feathery ball!
During their nuptial display, both partners play a game which consists of throwing berries to each other or tossing them between them with their beaks. Toucans are much sought after by the natives of South America.