Toucans are members of the Neotropical near passerine bird family Ramphastidae. The Ramphastidae are most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often-colorful bills. The family includes five genera and over forty different species. Read more
Toucans are arboreal and typically lay 2–21 white eggs in their nests. They make their nests in tree hollows and holes excavated by other animals such as woodpeckers—the toucan bill has very limited use as an excavation tool. When the eggs hatch, the young emerge completely naked, without any down. Toucans are resident breeders and do not migrate. Toucans are usually found in pairs or small flocks. They sometimes fence with their bills and wrestle, which scientists hypothesize they do to establish dominance hierarchies.
Toucans range in size from the lettered aracari (Pteroglossus inscriptus), at 130 g (4.6 oz) and 29 cm (11.5 inches), to the toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), at 680 g (1.5 lb) and 63 cm (29 inches). Their bodies are short (of comparable size to a crow's) and compact. The tail is rounded and varies in length, from half the length to the whole length of the body. The neck is short and thick. The wings are small, as they are forest-dwelling birds who only need to travel short distances, and are often of about the same span as the bill-tip-to-tail-tip measurements of the bird.
Toucans are native to the Neotropics, from Southern Mexico, through Central America, into South America south to northern Argentina. They mostly live in the lowland tropics, but the montane species from the genus Andigena reach temperate climates at high altitudes in the Andes and can be found up to the tree line.
Toucans are primarily frugivorous (fruit eating), but are opportunistically omnivorous and will take prey such as insects, smaller birds, and small lizards. Close