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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Species Fact Profile: Keel-Billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratis)

Keel-Billed Toucan
Ramphastos sulfuratus (Lesson, 1830)

Range: Central America, northern South America
Habitat: Lowland Forest, Forest Edge
Diet: Fruit, Eggs, Insects, Small Vertebrates
Social Grouping: Small Flocks of 6-12
Reproduction: Monogamous, nest in cavities, 2-4 glossy white eggs incubated by both parents for 16-20 days, chicks fledge at 8-9 weeks (how long it takes beak to fully form).  May raise 2-3 broods per year
Lifespan: 20 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern, CITES Appendix II

  • Body length 52 centimeters, (banana-shaped bull grows to be one-third the size of the body), weigh 400 grams.  Males are slightly larger than females
  • Despite large size, bill (green with orange blazes on the sides and a red  tip) is actually very light - hollow, bone-reinforced - and is edged with tooth like ridges.  The hill houses a long, slender tongue
  • Plumage is black with a yellow bib and cheeks, a white rump, and red under the tail
  • Flocks roost in tree cavities, sometimes several birds crowding in together.  They fit by folding their beaks beneath their wings when they roost
  • Feed by swallowing fruit hole, will regurgitate larger seeds, smaller seeds will pass through the digestive tract (seeds are unharmed in both cases, making the toucan a seed-disperser)
  • Vocalization is a creek-creek, resembling a tree frog (females have a higher pitch)
  • Spend most of their lives high in the trees, rarely come to the ground
  • Predators include arboreal carnivores, snakes, and especially birds of prey
  • Two subspecies - northern (nominate) is larger and has a longer bill than the souther (R. s. brevicannatus).  Coloration also differs slightly between the two
  • Historically have been hunted for meat and feathers, sometimes sold for pet trade (captives are sensitive to iron-storage disease if their diet is not properly managed)
  • National bird of Belize

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