Toco toucan

Toco toucan

Toco toucan

The Toco toucan, belonging to genus Ramphastos, is one of the most well-known birds of the toucan family. It is often simply referred to as Toucan. It is native to eastern and central South America. This species was first described by German zoologist Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller in 1776.


Other names for Toco toucan

  • Common toucan
  • Giant toucan

Scientific classification of Toco toucan

Kingdom : Animalia

Phylum : Chordata

Class : Aves

Order : Piciformes

Family : Ramphastidae

Genus : Ramphastos

Species : R. toco

Scientific Name for Toco toucan

The scientific name for Toco toucan is Ramphastos toco,


Subspecies of Toco toucan

It has two recognized subspecies. They are –

  • Ramphastos toco toco (found in south-eastern Peru, The Guianas, as well as north-eastern and northern Brazil).
  • Ramphastos toco albogularis (found in northern Argentina, northern Bolivia, eastern and southern Brazil, and Paraguay).

Physical description of Toco toucan

Adult specimens are around 61 centimeters in length; and their weight tend to be about 592 to 760 grams.

Physical description

Physical description

Males are larger than females. Their plumage is mostly shiny black, along with a white throat and chest. Their uppertail-coverts are white, and undertail-coverts are red. They have a blue skin around its eyes that often gets confused as iris. Their most noticeable feature is their yellowish-orange bill with a black patch on its tip. The size of their bill is almost one-third of their body length. Juveniles can be easily distinguished from adults because of their duller plumage and short and think bill.

Toco toucan Habitat

Unlike other toucan species, Toco toucan prefer to inhabit non-forested areas.



They are commonly found in forest patches, orchards, scrubs, streamsides, wooded islands, plantations, savannahs with palm groves, coastal forest edges, semi-open habitats. In Brazil, they found in large numbers in cerrados.

Geographical range of Toco toucan

Toco toucans inhabit much of the Neotropical region.

Geographical range of Toco toucan

Geographical range of Toco toucan

They are native to Brazil, Suriname, French Guiana, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. Recent researches have shown an interrelationship between its range and availability of fleshy fruits.

Toco toucan Behavior and Adaptation

Toco toucans are less sociable compared to other toucans. However, it is quite common to see them in a group of 5 to 6 members. Due to ceaseless changes in the availability of fruits, they stay very mobile within its native range. They primarily feed in the canopy; but at times, they also forage on the ground. Their big bill comes handy when reaching out to small fruits. They often hung upside-down in order pluck fruits. They use their bill during altercations. These species alternate between fast wing-beats and gliding while flying. During day, they mostly stay inactive; and rest on tree branches in regular intervals. Allopreening as well as preening by other members of the group are common within this species.

Toco toucan Reproduction

This bird is a cavity nesting species. Nest site is selected at least two months before egg laying. They nest is an abandoned cavity made by other birds, or a naturally occurring one.

Reproduction of Toco toucan

Reproduction of Toco toucan

They may use the same nest for consecutive years. At times, they also nest inside termite mounds. The most common courtship ritual include either male or female triggering off a fruit toss with a favored, potential mate. Breeding takes place in spring. Female lay a clutch of 2 to 4 eggs. Both male and female take part in the incubation process that continues for 17 to 19 days. The newly hatched chicks are altricial with closed eyes and bare-skinned. They stay dependent on their parents till they are 6 or 8 weeks old. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 or 4.

Toco toucan Diet

They are primarily frugivores. They commonly feed on guavas, oranges, peppers and figs among others. They also feed on insects, such as termites, caterpillars, as well as eggs and chicks of other small birds.



Life span

In the wild, their lifespan is around 20 years. However, their maximum recorded lifespan of an individual was 26 years. Their lifespan in captivity is nearly 18 years.


They are quite a vocal bird. They emit a series of snoring and grunting sounds, such as ‘rrro-rrro’, ‘rrraa’, ‘arkk-rk’, ‘kkreekk’, ‘ggrekkekk’, ‘grunnkkt’ and ‘groomkk’ among others. These notes are uttered once at a time, or more than 40 times in a minute. Juveniles emit ‘ehh-ehh’ notes.


Their common predators include eagles, coatis, snakes and jaguars.

Conservation Status

Since this species prefer to inhabit semi-open habitats, deforestation has not yet been considered as a great threat to their population. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept Toco toucan in the ‘Least Concern’ category.

Interesting Facts

  • Ramphastos toco albogularis was first described as a separate species. In 1862, it was described as a subspecies by German ornithologist Jean Cabanis.
  • In 2016, in a Nintendo 3DS game, Pokémon Toucannon was portrayed as a Toco Toucan.
  • They tuck their bill under their feathers when they go to sleep as it helps them to keep their body warm by adjusting blood flow.
  • This species is one of the most popular zoo birds in the world; and often kept as pet by many.

References –






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