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Toucans are one of the most colourful and well-known birds in the world. Here are 20 facts about toucans that you may not know.

  • There are five genera in the family Ramphastidae: Typical Toucans Ramphastos, Toucanets Selenidera, Mountain-toucans Andigena, Aracaris Pteroglossus, and Green toucanets Aulacorhynchus.
  • Toucans have a large bill that can measure up to half of their body length. It looks heavy but is made of keratin in a honeycombed pattern, giving it strength while keeping it light.

Do you want to know more about the  Channel-billed toucan?

  • The large bill is now thought to be a way of expelling heat, but it may also be so they can reach fruit from far away, used as a weapon, or when courting.
  • The keel-billed toucan has a bill that has every colour of the rainbow except violet.
  • Toucans are arboreal and rarely visit the ground. They bathe in the rain or in pools of water made in trees high up in the canopy.
  • Toucans have black plumage with bright bands of red, yellow, and green, and either white, blue, yellow, red, or green eye patches.
  • The largest toucan is the toco toucan at 63.5cm (25in) long while the smallest is the tawny-tufted toucanet at 31cm (12.5in.)
  • Toucans can be found from Southern Mexico, through Central America and South America to Northern Argentina.
  • Toucans live on a diet of fruit with figs being their favourite. However, they will also eat lizards, snakes, small birds, eggs, and insects including termites which they catch out of the air.
  • Toucans grab their food in the ends of their beaks before throwing it into the air and swallowing it whole.
  • Toucans live and fly in flocks up to a dozen individuals but don’t act like a group. When one flies away, another will follow until they have all left.
  • Toucans are not good fliers. They have small, round wings, and beat their wings a number of times before closing them and gliding. They do this over and over, forming an undulatory course.
  • Toucans prefer to hop from one branch to another than to fly and can often be seen playing with each other, pushing another and throwing food to each other.

Do you want to know more about the Red-breasted toucan?

  • Toucans will sleep on the branches of trees, but the Guiana toucanet and some of the medium-sized aracaris will sleep in tree holes.
  • They make nests for their young in tree holes which are already there. They may evict woodpeckers and other birds to make space for them.
  • Toucans are noisy but sound like yelping puppies or croaking frogs. Only the chestnut-mandibled toucan produces a melody.
  • Toucans normally lay two to four white eggs which hatch after about sixteen days.
  • Hatchlings are born naked and blind, opening their eyes after three weeks. They leave the nest after about six weeks.
  • When the birds are ready to leave the nest they resemble the adults but much smaller.
  • Toucans can be seen on Guinness adverts and on the front of Froot Loops cereal boxes.

Do you want to know more about the Keel-billed toucan?