The toco toucan (Ramphastos toco), also known as the common toucan, giant toucan or simply toucan,
is the largest and probably the best known species in the toucan
family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of
central and eastern South America. This species is the largest toucan
and the largest representative of the order Piciformes.
It occurs in northern and eastern Bolivia, extreme south-eastern
Peru, northern Argentina, eastern and central Paraguay, eastern and
southern Brazil (excluding southern Rio Grande do Sul, the dry regions
dominated by Caatinga vegetation and coastal regions between Ceará and
Rio de Janeiro). Other disjunct populations occur along the lower Amazon
River (Ilha de Marajó west approximately to the Madeira River), far
northern Brazil in Roraima, and coastal regions of the Guianas. It only
penetrates the Amazon in relatively open areas (e.g. along river
corridors). It is resident, but local movements may occur.
It is, unlike the other members of the genus Ramphastos,
essentially a non-forest species. It can be found in a wide range of
semi-open habitats such as woodland, savanna and other open habitats
with scattered trees, Cerrado, plantations, forest-edge, and even wooded
gardens. It is mainly a species of lowlands, but occurs up to 1,750 m
(5,740 ft) near the Andes in Bolivia. It is easily seen in the Pantanal.
The toco toucan has a beautiful plumage with a mostly black body, a
white throat, chest and uppertail-coverts, and red undertail-coverts.
They have a thin blue skin around the eye that is surrounded by another
ring of bare, orange skin. They have a large bill( which looks heavy but
is very light) that is yellow-orange, to a deeper reddish-orange on its
lower sections and with a black base and large spot on the tip. The
tongue is as large as it bill. There is not difference between the male
and female. Juveniles are duller and shorter-billed than adults.
The nest is usually placed high in a tree and consists of a cavity,
which part of is excavated by the parent birds themselves. They have
also nested in holes in earth-banks and terrestrial termite-nests. Their
reproduction cycle is annual. The female usually lays two to four eggs a
few days after mating. The eggs are incubated by both sexes and hatch
after 17–18 days. These birds are very protective of themselves and
The diet of keel-billed toucans consists mostly of a wide range
of fruit, but may also include insects, eggs, nestlings and lizards, as
well as small birds. The bill, surprisingly dexterous, allows this
toucan to utilize a large variety of fruit that might not otherwise be
reached. When eating the fruit, it uses its bill to dissect the fruit,
and then tosses its head back to swallow the fruit whole.