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Toucans: Ramphastidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Most toucans live year round in the same area. A few species make annual migrations between mountainside forests, where they spend spring and summer, and lowlands, where they spend fall and winter. Their main predators, animals that hunt them for food, are forest eagles, hawks, and owls. Monkeys, snakes, and weasels raid toucan nests. Small songbirds will mob or chase after the toucans that raid their nests.

Toucans prefer to stay high in the treetops. They don't like to descend to the forest floor. They drink rainwater from treetop plants called bromeliads and bathe by fluttering against wet leaves. They also like to take sunbaths. Most species avoid flying over open water. They are weak flyers and can tire, fall into the water, and drown.

Toucans often live in small flocks of about a dozen birds or fewer. It's common to see a group gather high in a tree to vocalize together, in the early morning, evening, or after a rainstorm. The calls sound like harsh grunts and croaks. Group members also interact by preening each other. To cross an open space, birds go one at a time. Many toucans roost in tree cavities. A sleeping toucan turns its head so its bill rests on its back, then bends its tail forward over the back so that it looks like a ball of feathers.

Members of larger species do not breed until they are three or four years old. Males often court females by feeding them berries. Often, the pair also preens one another. Most toucans nest in tree holes. They may remove chunks of very rotten wood but do not really dig a hole like woodpeckers do. Large toucans often use natural holes. Small toucans use abandoned woodpecker holes. One pair may use the same hole year after year. Both parents incubate the white eggs for about sixteen days. They also share the work of brooding the nestlings and bringing insects. The young birds fledge, grow their flying feathers, after about fifty days, but the parents keep feeding them for another eight to ten days.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsToucans: Ramphastidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Toucans And People, Conservation Status, Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan (andigena Hypoglauca): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT