Bird Families

Aracari Agarrado Pteroglossus torquatus toucan


Huge beaks, which, it would seem, should give birds a lot of inconvenience both in the air and on the ground, also have toucans, or peppers (Ramphastidae). They belong to the detachment woodpeckers (Piciformes) and have, like all its representatives, legs adapted for climbing trees, the first and fourth toes of which are always turned back. The beak of toucans is usually brightly colored, without outgrowth, its edges are sawtooth serrated. If such a beak were solid of bone and horny matter, then the bird could hardly raise its head. Toucans, on the other hand, behave very smartly and do not seem to even notice the weight of their beak. Indeed, it is unusually light in them, since - like in hornbills - it is hollow inside, and the thin bones of the jaws are permeated with air cavities. It is only unclear what function such an exorbitantly large beak has. He decisively does not serve as a weapon of protection, and does not find special use in gathering food. But since in each species it has a special catchy color and a different shape, it can be assumed that the beak plays the role of a signal or identification mark in the social life of certain species. The plumage is mostly bright, the wings are short and rounded. Toucans have a long tongue, reaching to the top of the beak, with a fringe along the edges. They feed mainly on fruits that are plucked from trees and swallowed whole or rubbed with the jagged edges of the beak. They also eat small animals. They nest in hollows, both sexes are involved in raising offspring. Clutch usually consists of 1-4 white eggs. Chicks hatch on 16-18 days naked and blind and spend up to 6 weeks in the nest.

Goes to the zoo quite often variegated toucan (Ramphastos discolorus). His homeland is South-East Brazil and North-East Argentina. Compared to other species of this genus, it has a relatively short beak. The total length of the bird is approximately 50 cm, the back is black, the upper tail coverts are red, the throat, cheeks and front of the neck are yellow or orange, the chest, belly and naked circles around the eyes are red. The green beak is decorated with a black stripe at the base. Smaller orange-throated peppers, or ariel (Ramphastos arid) [768,770], has a black beak with a yellow stripe at the base. The throat is yellow, the chest, upper and lower tail coverts are red. According to the latest ideas of researchers, this bird is nothing more than a subspecies Ramphastos vitellinusliving in the forests of northeastern South America as far south as Central Brazil. The local name "Toko" was retained for the scientific name of the largest giant toucan (Ramphastos toco). It can be assumed that the name toucan itself comes from this Indian word. Toko is almost entirely black with white "shirt-front" and upper tail, blood-red undertail, large orange-yellow beak with a black stripe at the base and the same spot at the top of the upper beak. Inhabits rainforests from Guiana to Bolivia and Northern Argentina. Toko caught by chicks are easily tamed. They are often caught by the Indians, who, having pulled out the feathers going for decoration, release the birds to freedom.

767. Motley Toucan

768. Orange-throated Peppers

770. Orange-throated Pepper

769. Giant Toucan

771. Toko is almost all black with white "shirt-front" and upper tail, blood-red undertail, large beak, orange-yellow with a black stripe at the base and the same spot on the top of the upper beak

Relatively shorter than that of other peppers, a whitish, black-striped beak in spotted, or golden-eared toucan (Selenidera maculirostris) [772, XXX] - an inhabitant of South-East Brazil. In a bird, with a total length of 32 cm, the back is greenish-black, the head, neck and chest are black, under the eye and on the sides of the head there is a golden-yellow longitudinal stripe.

772. Spotted Toucan

XXX. Spotted toucan

The composition of the genus arasari (Pteroglossus) includes medium-sized toucans, 11 species of which are distributed from Mexico to Argentina. These are very sociable, friendly birds, most of the year meeting in groups and even spending the night, climbing several in one hollow.

Pteroglossus inscriptus breeds in Guiana and throughout the Amazon region. Its black head and throat contrast sharply with the yellow underside of the body, the back is green-black. The photograph clearly shows a black pattern on a white beak.

773. Pteroglossus inscriptus

Collared arasari (Pteroglossus torquatus) has a chestnut brown stripe on the nape, the loin and upper tail coverts are cinnabar red. The ventral side of the body is yellow-red with a black field on the "shirt-front" and a black belt across the abdomen. The black and white beak is outlined at the base with a narrow white stripe. From the woodpecker family belonging to the same order barbards (Capitonidae), numbering 72 species, we represent black-backed pearl barbard (Trachyphonus vaillantii). It, like all representatives of this family, is characterized by a large beak with strongly developed bristles at the base. All species belong to the tropics of the Old and New Worlds, they are absent only in Australia and Madagascar. Most of the barbards inhabit Africa, including the species under consideration, which has a yellow belly, the same sides of the neck and forehead, in harmony with the rest of the nss blue-black shiny plumage, on the back of the head there is a small black crest. It is a typical inhabitant of dry shrub steppes from Angola to Tanganyika.

774. Collar Arasari

775. Black-Backed Pearl Barby


Toucans are the largest representatives of the Woodpecker order, distinguished by their exotic appearance. Outwardly, they are very similar to rhino birds, but they are not related to them. These birds are united in the family of the same name, numbering 37 species; their closest relatives are woodpeckers. Also toucans are sometimes called peppers, but this name is not very common.

Rainbow toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus).

The sizes of toucans vary insignificantly: the body length is 35-50 cm, weight 150-330 g. The constitution of these birds is dense, the wings and bluntly cut tail are of medium length, the paws are small, the neck is short, but the modest proportions of these body parts are compensated by the beak. For toucans, it is not only long, but also wide, when viewed from the side it seems unusually massive and heavy. In fact, the beak of a toucan weighs no more than the beak of other medium-sized birds, its small mass is provided by air cavities. The edges of the beak are covered with small, sharp notches that help to hold the round fruit. The plumage of these birds is rather stiff, between the beak and the eye there is a patch of bare skin. In all species of toucans, the color of the body is dominated by black, but some parts of the neck, head, wings, chest, paws and even the iris of the eye are painted in all colors of the rainbow, the beak is always bright (usually red, yellow, orange). Thanks to this, toucans are considered one of the most elegant birds.

Large toucan (Ramphastos toco).

The distribution zone of these birds is limited to Central and South America, there are no narrow endemics among toucans, the ranges of all species are quite extensive. Their habitats are also monotonous, without exception, all toucans are forest birds. They inhabit dense forests, moist woodlands, plantation outskirts and city gardens. They lead a sedentary lifestyle, but some species can migrate, moving in different zones of mountain forests, during the nesting period they are found singly or in pairs, the rest of the time they huddle in small flocks. Toucans are not grumpy birds, they are not only tolerant of relatives, but also show real mutual assistance. Like crows, attracted by vanity, they do not fly away, but rush to help their comrades and, with joint efforts, raise such a noise that the offender hastens to get away. Toucans are active only during daylight hours, move mainly in the crowns of trees, rarely descend to the ground. Their movements are slow, the flight is heavy and short, but their screams are very shrill. Voices of different types are different, but more often they sound like croaking or sonorous yapping.

Black-throated aracari (Pteroglossus aracari) in flight.

The diet of these birds consists mainly of juicy fruits of palms, nuts, all kinds of berries and fruits. Since the fruits usually ripen at the ends of branches that cannot bear the weight of the toucan, a long beak comes to his aid. With its help, the bird reaches for the most delicious fruit, the manner of eating toucans is peculiar. First, they pick the berry with the tip of their beak, then slightly toss it into the air, catch it and swallow it.

The collared arasari (Pteroglossus torquatus) eats the fruit of the palm tree.

Despite their vegetarian diet, toucans can, on occasion, eat small animals (spiders, lizards, frogs, toads, snakes), eggs and chicks of other birds.

A couple of toucans steal eggs in front of a walking peacock in the Iguazu Bird Park, Brazil.

They breed once a year, like woodpeckers, these birds are monogamous. The resulting pair is in a hurry to find a nest, in this respect toucans are very different from woodpeckers. The fact is that toucans cannot hammer wood with their clumsy and light beak, and they nest exclusively in hollows. So the birds have to scour the crowns of trees in search of a suitable dwelling, since natural hollows in the forest are not common, toucans do not hesitate to "evict" some small birds. However, cruelty is not characteristic of them, rather, toucans behave like rogue thieves.

Large toucan with food in its beak near the nest.

In clutch they have only 1-4 round eggs with white and shiny shells. Incubation lasts 2-3 weeks, both parents incubate and feed offspring. Chicks hatch naked and helpless. It is interesting that the nestling's beak differs in structure from that of adults: it is completely straight, and the lower jaw is noticeably wider than the upper one. This kind of "ladle" helps chicks catch berries brought by their parents. Just like woodpecker chicks, toucan chicks have a heel callus, which helps them to hold onto the walls of the hollow. In total, they spend 6-8 weeks in the nest, and then wander with their parents.

In nature, toucans have few enemies. The bright color and large beak, oddly enough, perfectly camouflage these birds in the crowns of trees. Quick wits, caution and collective support help them survive. Snakes (mainly tree boas), birds of prey, and less often wild cats can attack toucans. The local population has always hunted toucans because of the tasty and fatty meat. Feathers and patches of bright skin from the chest of birds were also used, they were used to make ritual jewelry. Despite this, toucans did not particularly suffer from hunting, and with the colonization of America they began to populate cultural landscapes. Nowadays, they can often be found in the parks of South American cities, on plantations, in gardens, where they often rob, eat bananas and other fruits. Gullible and friendly disposition has made these birds popular pets. In captivity, toucans show themselves as very quick-witted, curious, but not restless tenants.

Flat-billed Andigena (Andigena laminirostris).

Read about the animals mentioned in this article: woodpeckers, lizards, snakes, toads, frogs.

Usage Information

Photo "Aracari Agarrado Pteroglossus torquatus toucan" can be used for personal and commercial purposes according to the conditions of the purchased Royalty-free license. The image is available for download in high quality with resolution up to 3840x3840.

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