The channel-billed toucan Ramphastos vitellinus vitellinus is a large toucan measuring up to 48cm in length with a bill measuring up to 14cm. There are three subspecies of the channel-billed toucan, each with some variances in colour.
Their bill is completely black, although when viewed in certain lights it has a bluish colour. The base of the bill is a pale powder-blue that extends over the skin that surrounds the eye. The citron-throated toucan Ramphastos vitellinus citreolaemus has a yellow tinge to the throat, a pale blue iris, and a green tinge to the culmen.
The yellow-ridged toucan Ramphastos vitellinus culminatus has a yellow base of the upper bill and orang-yellow uppertail coverts. The third subspecies it the Ariel toucan Ramphastos vitellinus aerial. They can be identified from the yellow base of the bill, and red skin around the eye.
They have mainly black plumage, with the crown, wings, and back all black. The tail is also black but has bright crimson upper and under-tail coverts.
They have a broad crimson breast band with a black belly. Above the crimson breast band, their neck and breast are yellow or even orange leading up to a white face. The channel-billed toucan weighs between 300-430g.
They can be seen in small flocks moving across the tree-tops. They hop from branch to branch, and their flight is characterised by a series of bounds.
The channel-billed toucan feeds on fruit plucked from trees along with a diet of insects, especially in the breeding period.
They are noisy birds and can be heard making a high-pitched, yelping that sounds like ‘kiok, kiok.’
They lay between one and four, rounded, white eggs in a natural hole in a forest tree high in the tree away from predators. They do not line the nest as their bills do not allow them to collect nesting material. Incubation is shared between the male and female who also both feed the chicks. Fledging lasts for a considerable time.
After a gestation period of eighteen days, the parents share the incubation time which is approximately sixteen days.
The chicks are born blind and can see after three weeks. After eight weeks they may leave the nest to fend for themselves. When in the nest they are fed fruit from their parents.
The channel-billed toucans can be found in South America in eastern Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana.
There are three subspecies of the channel-billed toucan. Each can be distinguished by their markings