Toco Toucan
One of the Largest and Brightest Beaks Around


Name: Toco toucan
Scientific name: Ramphastos toco
Range: Guiana, Brazil, N. Argentina.
Habitat: Rain Forests 
Status: Not threatened 
Diet in the wild: Small fruits , bird eggs, rodents, and insects.
Diet in the zoo: At the zoo the birds a fruit mixture somewhat like fruit cocktail and vitamins. 
Location in the zoo:  Bird Row, below Raptor Canyon
Physical description:
The body of the Toco toucan is about 25 inches, or 64 centimeters.
General information:

The Toco is the largest of the toucan family with a large lightweight beak and a body with a length of 25 inches. Its large beak is full of "a combination of bright colors like blue, yellow, red, and orange" (19: 345). However, the body may be mostly black with one or two other colors on it like red and orange. These bright colors on the beak and body may be use to attract the toucan's mates. The large beak also has a narrow tongue use for eating small fruits and insects off trees; consequently, because of its large beak and body form, the Toco toucan is a poor flier and spends most of its time in hollow trees. 

While spending most of their time in hollow trees, the Toco toucans live in small flocks within which they mate. The Tocos may, "mate once a year like most toucans, and build a their nest in hollow trees" (19: 345). In the nest the female lays two to four white eggs. After the eggs hatch the parents will care for the young for about 8 weeks.

Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations

One special adaptation that toucans have in the wild is deafening each other while they are in small flocks. For instance, when they see a bird of prey, "they gather about it in a jeering band" (Gilliard 254). Therefore, by doing this they scare off the predator. 

Another special adaptation that toucans have in the wild is when they sleep in the wild because they have adapted themselves for nesting in holes. This special adaptation is done with the toucan turning its head and placing its long beaks on its backs, "with its hook pushed down between the wings and the body" (Gilliard 255). They also fold their tails on their backs as well when sleeping in nest in holes.

Facts and comments from a zoo keeper

The Toco toucan can be raised to be quite tame in captivity like ours. However, most wild birds will calm down over time in captivity, but they will always remain shy of humans. For instance, toucans in captivity have trouble breeding. Therefore, more research is needed to understand the conditions they need to reproduce successfully. 

Facts and comments from Wm Nolen Reeder, 
"Birmingham Zoo Webmaster." 


Personal Observations:

Like the zoo keeper said I did notice that the toucan acts quite tame in captivity. The toucan also seems to be quieter in captivity than I thought it would be from reading about it in the wild. Also I noticed that the toucan is a little bit fatter in captivity as well. 

Sources and Related Links:

Bath, Daniel S. "Toucans." World Book. The World Book Encyclopedia. 1994 ed. T. vol. 19

Gilliard, E. Thomas. "Toucans." Living Birds of the World. Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1995.

"The Toucan Bird":

"The Phoenix Zoo":

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