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Orange skin around eye; black body except for white throat
Body: 62.5 cm (25 in)
Beak: 18.75 cm (7.5 in)
600g (12 oz)
Omnivorous; mainly fruits, but occasionally insects, reptiles, birds and eggs
Up to 20 years
Throughout eastern South America
Tropical rain forests
The toucan's beak appears quite heavy, but is actually light. It is hollow, made of protein keratin with thin rods of bone to support it - similar in consistency to a hard sponge.
Its tongue is like a feather which is used to catch food and flick it down its throat.
In its native region, toucans are associated with evil spirits and are thought to be the incarnation of a demon. In certain religions of South and Central America, the father of a new child must not eat toucan flesh as it might bewitch the newborn and cause it to fade away. The toucan can also be a tribal totem and the medicine man can use it as an incarnation to fly to the spirit world.
The toucan is a poor flyer, moving from tree to tree mostly by hopping.
Toucans have a loud frog like call that can be heard up to a half mile away in the jungle!
Although scientists have yet to discover the exact function of such a large bill, they believe it may play an important role in the courtship display and as a defensive weapon.
When toucans sleep, they turn their head so that their long bill rests on their back and their tail is folded over their head. The bird becomes a ball of feathers. Often found in abandoned tree hollows or old woodpecker holes, 5-6 adults may sleep in one hole!
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
This species range is the victim of heavy deforestation. There are areas of South and Central America where some toucan species are rare due to hunting for food, ornamental feathers, and trophy. Many species of toucan are popular in the pet trade due to its brightly colored bill and keen intelligence.
Birds - Their Latin Names Explained
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Perrins, Dr. Christopher.
Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World
. New York: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. 1979.
Perrins, Dr. Christopher M.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds: The Definitive Reference to Birds of the World
. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 1990.
Perrins, Dr. Christopher M. And Dr. Alex L.A. Middleton, eds.
The Encyclopedia of Birds
. New York: Facts on File Pub. 1985.