Facts About the Toucans in the Amazon Rainforest

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The 40 or so species of toucan and toucanets of the Ramphastidae family are all native to the tropical Americas and the Caribbean. Most species are found in the Amazon rainforest. Few are classified as endangered, although some live in small areas and are highly specialized. Toucans are among the most instantly recognizable birds because of their long curved bills and bright color.

A Keel Billed Toucan
A Keel Billed Toucan (Image: Shane Partridge/Hemera/Getty Images)

Taxonomy

The Ramphastidae family is divided into six genera. All the large, instantly recognizable toucans are in the Ramphastos or black toucan genera. This includes the toco toucan, the largest species, which has black and white plumage, a blue eye ring and a huge orange bill. It lives in open forest areas of South America including the Amazon rainforest. Other Ramphastos species in the Amazon include the white throated or red billed toucan and the channel billed toucan.

Toco Toucan
Toco Toucan (Image: swisshippo/iStock/Getty Images)

Other Toucans

The Selenidera and Aulacorhynchus are small toucans or toucanets that live in the forests of South and Central America. Andigena toucans are medium sized and live in the mountains of western South America where the Amazon meets the Andes. Toucans of the Pteroglossus genus are the most social.

A Grey-breasted mountain toucan
A Grey-breasted mountain toucan (Image: Ammit/iStock/Getty Images)

Diet

The toucans eat forest fruit such as figs and passion fruit as well as eggs, lizards, insects and even small adult birds.They use their long bills to pick ripe fruits, which they toss into their throats and swallow whole.

Toucan eating a egg
Toucan eating a egg (Image: GCastellon/iStock/Getty Images)

Behavior

Most toucan species live in pairs or in small and fairly loose knit family groups. The Aracaris toucans travel during the day in small bands but gather to roost communally.Toucans will share food with their mate and bathe regularly in pools of water in tree hollows. They communicate with yelps and croaks.

Toucan group on tree branch in Pantanal, Brazil
Toucan group on tree branch in Pantanal, Brazil (Image: Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Breeding

Toucan pairs share the burden of incubating eggs and feeding their young.They nest in hollow trees but prefer to use holes made by woodpeckers rather than make their own. The female lays between two and four eggs, which hatch in about 16 days. The young birds do not have the large bill of the adults.

Pair of toucan chicks
Pair of toucan chicks (Image: Vladimir Melnik/iStock/Getty Images)

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