Toucans are another icon of the Amazon Rainforest. Amazon Toucans feed on a range of things like insects, nestling birds, eggs and other small vertebrates but primarily eat a diversity of different fruits. They have a stereotypical behavior when gulping down fruit and tilt the head back to feed. Toucans are very social and you will usually see two or more together. They have a characteristic large and usually colorful beak that helps regulate temperature. Males also use their showy beaks in dueling competitions over mates.
Here’s a passage from the Amazon Explorers article. It’s an account from the 1848 eleven-year expedition of Henry Bates, naturalist & explorer:
One of the peculiarities Bates mentions about his time in Amazonia, being a British naturalist, came in the months of June and July when the villagers, deprived of meat, shoot the oncoming flock of Cuvier’s toucan (Ramphastos cuvieri), a brightly colored bird. For several weeks afterwards, each family has the rare treat of daily stewed toucan.
If only The Lord’s Prayer was written in the Amazon. That is to say — “give us this day our daily toucan.”
The Chestnut Eared Aracari
The chestnut eared aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis) is a commonly seen bird in places like the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve near Iquitos and the Tambopata National Reserve near Puerto Maldonado in Peru. This species has the largest range of any of the aracaris. They eat fruit and also invertebrates
The Curl-Crested Aracari
This bird in the header image, the Curl-Crested Aracari (Pteroglossus beauharnaesii) has a very unique looking hairdo. Their head feathers are formed in an unusual way to look like shiny, black beads or coiled, short, black hair. They live in the western Amazon Rainforest of southern Peru like Tambopata National Reserve, and also north Bolivia. They are frugivorous and are often seen in fruiting trees.
The western Amazon Rainforest has the highest diversity of life and, if you’re lucky, all of the Toucans on this page can be seen on the Puerto Maldonado Amazon Tours of Tambopata National Reserve in south Peru.
Emerald toucanets (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) are a compact looking toucan and blend in well with leafy foliage as they’re bright green. Males have larger beaks than females but otherwise males and females look very similar. Emerald toucanets feeds off a range of fruit from over 100 different plants. Research on this species, which is probably general to many if not all toucans, has shown that despite size differences between male and female beak size, there is no difference in feeding behavior. Toucanets usually move around in smaller groups than other toucans.
The lettered aracari (Pteroglossus inscriptus) is a commonly encountered toucan in the eastern and central Amazon Rainforest and has a very large range. This is one of the species that seems to adapt well to degraded forests. The bird is named after the black marking over its bill that resemble letters. Like other toucans, lettered aracaris eat fruit and invertebrates.
White Throated Toucan
White throated toucans (Ramphastos tucanus) are one of the birds we think about when we initially think toucan, along with others like the toco toucans that live in open areas and generally avoid forests. White throated toucans have the general diet of fruits and insects, but like other larger toucans, they also take nestling birds and small vertebrates.
What are your favorite Toucans? Have you managed to see any in the wild? Feel free to leave your comments below.