The Ramphastidae are most closely related to the American barbets. Toucans are members of the Neotropical near passerine bird family Ramphastidae. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. Though the bill appears unwieldy, even heavy, it is composed of extremely lightweight bone covered with keratin—the same material as human fingernails. The family includes five genera and over forty different species. A baby toucan is actually called a chick. Toucans are known for their huge beaks, which can grow larger than their bodies. They use their beaks for reaching over and plucking fruit from branches of trees. The bright colors (usually orange) on the beak may help the toucans to recognize each other, and to scare off other birds. Toco toucans feed either individually or in small flocks in the canopy. They tend to hop more than they fly. These toucans nest in tree cavities and usually lay two to four eggs, which both parents take turns incubating.
TYPES OF TOUCANS:
There are different types of toucans. Some of them are,
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN: Keel-billed toucan is a species of a toucan with a huge, rainbow-colored bill. It is the national bird of Belize. The species is found in tropical jungles from southern Mexico to Colombia. Their feet are drawn up forward in flight. The flight distances are typically short. They live together in groups, often sharing cramped living quarters of holes in trees. Despite its large size and bright colors, can be difficult to see in the leafy canopy, where it moves deliberately in search of food.
- GREEN-BILLED TOUCAN:
The beak is mostly pale greenish-horn, leading to its common name. The Green–billed Toucan, also known as the Red-breasted Toucan. The Red-breasted Toucan’s name is derived from the large area of red feathers found on its belly, while its chest is orangy-yellow with yellow sides.
- WHITE-THROATED TOUCAN:
Like other toucans, the white-throated toucan is brightly marked and has a huge bill. It has black plumage with a white throat and breast bordered below with a narrow red line. The rump is bright yellow and the crissum (the area around the cloaca) is red. The bare skin around the eye is blue. The bill has a yellow tip, upper ridge, and base of the upper mandible, and the base of the lower mandible is blue.
- CHANNEL-BILLED TOUCAN:
Mostly black with a dark bill (although some populations have a yellow ridge on top of the bill). Significant plumage variation across range: throat color varies from white to orange; bare skin around eye varies from blue to red. In the western part of its range, appearance is very similar to White-throated Toucan, but note voice: a grating croak, not a clear yelp
- CHESTNUT-MANDIBILLED TOUCAN:
The chestnut-mandibled toucan or Swainson’s toucan is a subspecies of the yellow-throated toucan which breeds from eastern Honduras to northern Colombia to western Ecuador. Small flocks, usually consisting of 3–12 birds, move through the forest with an undulating flight, rarely traveling more than 100 m at a time. The chestnut-mandibled toucan is a resident breeder in moist lowland forest.
- BLACK MANDIBILLED TOUCAN:
The Black-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) can be found in the north of South America. Toucans have distinctive coloration, markings, and are particularly noted for their large colorful bills. They occur at altitudes of 100-2400 m – in humid montane forests, with a preference for the canopy and edge. The Black-mandibled Toucan’s bill measures 47 to 61 cm in length. Its bill is about 18 cm long.