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Keel-billed Toucan
Keel-billed Toucan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Ramphastidae
Vigors, 1825

Toucans are near passerine birds from the neotropics. They are brightly marked and have enormous colorful bills. The family includes six genera and about 40 species.

Toucans range in size from 18 to 63 cm (7 to 25 in). A bit bigger than a crow, their body is short and thick and the tail is rounded. The tail varies in length from half the length to the whole length of the body. The neck is short and thick while at the base of the head is a huge, brightly-colored beak that measures in some large species, more than half the length of the body. A toucan's tongue is long, narrow, and singularly frayed on each side, adding to its sensibility as an organ of taste.

The legs of a toucan are strong and rather short. Their toes are arranged in pairs with the first and fourth toe turned backward. Both males and females are the same color. The feathers in the genus containing the largest toucans are generally coloured black, with touches of white, yellow, and scarlet. The underparts of the araçaris (smaller toucans) are yellow, crossed by one or more black or red bands, and the edges of the beak are saw-toothed. The toucanets have mostly green plumage with blue markings.

Toucans are frugivorous (fruit-eating), but will take insects and other small prey such as small lizards. However, many other birds consume these foods without the giant bill to help them. So what is the function of the beak in feeding? One likely use is to specialize on prey such as nestlings and bats in treeholes. In this view, the beak is an adaptation to allows the bird to reach deep into the treehole and thereby access food unavailable to birds that would otherwise compete for similar food reasources.

They are arboreal and nest in tree holes laying 2–4 white eggs. The young hatched are completely naked, without any down. They are resident breeders and do not migrate. Toucans are usually found in pairs or small flocks.

The name of this bird group is derived from Tupi tucana, via French.


Toucans in advertising

Toucans were used to advertise Guinness stout (using the slogan 'See what toucan do'), and many collectables such as postcards and models with Guinness toucans on them may be found. Toucan Sam is the mascot of Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal. Y107 in Nashville used a "Tookie Bird" as their mascot.

There is a European phone company called Toucan. Toucan is part of IDT Telecom, a subsidiary of global telecoms provider IDT Corp. They provide phone service, dial-up, and broadband internet service as well as mobile services in the Netherlands and the UK including Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, bringing state-of the art communications to Europe, USA, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They have call centers in England, Ireland, India, and Israel.

Toucans in fiction

A humorous derivation of the name of the bird features in David McKee's children's book "Two Can Toucan".

Wulffmorgenthaler comic strip features a character named 'Toucan kid', who is an offspring of a human and a toucan.

Tookie Tookie, George's pet Toucan from George of the Jungle.

Species list

  • Aulacorhynchus
    • Emerald Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus prasinus
      Groove-billed Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus sulcatus
      Chestnut-tipped Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus derbianus
      Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus haematopygus
      Yellow-browed Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus huallagae
      Blue-banded Toucanet, Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis
  • Pteroglossus
    • Lettered Aracari, Pteroglossus inscriptus
      Green Aracari, Pteroglossus viridis
      Red-necked Aracari, Pteroglossus bitorquatus
      Ivory-billed Aracari, Pteroglossus azara
      Brown-mandibled Aracari, Pteroglossus mariae
      Chestnut-eared Aracari, Pteroglossus castanotis
      Black-necked Aracari, Pteroglossus aracari
      Collared Aracari, Pteroglossus torquatus
      Fiery-billed Aracari, Pteroglossus frantzii
      Stripe-billed Aracari, Pteroglossus sanguineus
      Pale-mandibled Aracari, Pteroglossus erythropygius
      Many-banded Aracari, Pteroglossus pluricinctus
      Curl-crested Aracari, Pteroglossus beauharnaesii
  • Baillonius
    • Saffron Toucanet, Baillonius bailloni
  • Andigena
    • Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Andigena laminirostris
      Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Andigena hypoglauca
      Hooded Mountain Toucan, Andigena cucullata
      Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Andigena nigrirostris
  • Selenidera
    • Yellow-eared Toucanet, Selenidera spectabilis
      Golden-collared Toucanet, Selenidera reinwardtii
      Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Selenidera nattereri
      Guianan Toucanet, Selenidera culik
      Spot-billed Toucanet, Selenidera maculirostris
      Gould's Toucanet, Selenidera gouldii
  • Ramphastos
    • Keel-billed Toucan, Ramphastos sulfuratus
      Choco Toucan, Ramphastos brevis
      Citron-throated Toucan, Ramphastos citreolaemus
    • Channel-billed Toucan, Ramphastos vitellinus
      • Yellow-ridged Toucan, Ramphastos vitellinus culminatus
    • Red-breasted Toucan, Ramphastos dicolorus
      Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Ramphastos swainsonii
      Black-mandibled Toucan, Ramphastos ambiguus
    • White-throated Toucan, Ramphastos tucanus, includes
      • Red-billed Toucan, R. t. tucanus
      • Cuvier's Toucan, R. t. cuvieri
    • Toco Toucan, Ramphastos toco

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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