Ramphastidae



Bearded Barbet
Bearded Barbet
(Lybius dubius dubius)
Photo: Ben Vandenbroek

Coppersmith Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
(Megalaima haemacephala)
Photo: Tan Chin Tong

Fire-tufted Barbet
Fire-tufted Barbet
(Psilopogon pyrolophus)
Photo: Christian Artuso

 

Capitonidae - The American Barbets

There are 14 species of barbets in South America.  They are all forest dwellers and primarily frugivorous however, some species have been known to eat arthropods. 

Barbets

Barbets are small, stocky-bodied birds with rather large heads which gives the appearance of a stubby neck.  The majority of barbets are multicolored in striking plumage.  The Asian and American species are predominantly green with red, blue and yellow markings, usually around the head.  African barbets are mainly yellow, black or red and are heavily spotted or streaked.  Their bills are stout and have bristles or tufts of feathers that lay forward over the nares, gape and chin region of the face.  They possess zygodactylous toes (two forward and two backward) and with the exception of three species are arboreal.

There are 84 species in 11 genera.

Range of the Barbets

 

 

In Africa: south of the Sahara.

In Asia: India, Sri Lanka, SE Asia, Philippines, Java, Bali, Borneo,

In Central and South America: Panama, Costa Rica and NW South America.
Status in the Wild

The IUCN Red List 2001 Shows:

White-mantled Barbet Endangered
Five-colored Barbet   Near Threatened
Orange-fronted Barbet Near Threatened
Scarlet-banded Barbet Vulnerable

Diet

Fruits, berries, buds, flowers, nectar, insects; larger species such as the lineated barbet have been known to consume tree frogs, lizards and even other smaller birds. Certain genera may be more frugivorous or insectivorous.

Courtship and Egglaying

Although certain barbet species have bred in captivity little is known about the courtship process in the wild. Generally the male pursues the hen; in ground barbets the male will posture and raise its crown feathers while strutting around her. Duetting is common in barbets though its function isn't exactly known. Because it is done throughout the year it is probably a territorial announcement.

Because the bill of the barbet is not as 'chisel-like' as a woodpecker they often dig their nesting holes into softer wood or plant materials; an African species digs into a dirt bank. They have been known to use old woodpecker holes also. Generally the holes are usually high above the ground. The hole is just large enough for a single bird to pass in and out of and is often placed under a branch to shelter from direct inclement weather.

The average clutch is 2-4 whitish eggs. Both parents generally incubate and both also spend the night in the nest hole. Incubation lasts 13-15 days in some species and 18-19 days in others. The young are altricial and possess heel pads like toucans. Fledging occurs differently within the family; from 20-21 days, 24-26 days and 33-35 days respectively. Second clutches can occur in certain species.

Movement and Migration

There are no barbets that migrate. Movement within range can occur.

 

Individual Species of American Barbets
The species highlighted below are ones that have a current TAG status. Our goal is to eventually have information on every Piciformes species.

Scarlet-crowned Barbet
Capito aurovirens

Five-colored Barbet
C. quinticolor

Scarlet-hooded Barbet
E. b. tucinkae

Spot-crowned Barbet
C. maculicoronatus maculicoranatus

Black-spotted Barbet
C. niger niger

Versicolored Barbet
E. versicolor

Orange-fronted Barbet
C. m. squamatus

Brown-chested Barbet
C. n. brunneipectus

Prong-billed Barbet
Semnorinis rantzii

White-mantled Barbet
C. hypoleucus

Lemon-throated Barbet
C. richardsoni

Toucan Barbet
S. ramphastinus

Black-girdled Barbet
C. dayi

Red-headed Barbet
Eubucco bourcierii bouricierri

 

Emerald Toucanet
Emerald Toucanet
Photo: Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens
Curl-crested Aracari
Curl-crested Aracari
Photo: Arthur Grossett
Toco Toucan feeding chick
Toco Toucan feeding chick
Photo: Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens


Toucans are easily recognized birds with their over-sized and often colorful bill which allows them to pluck fruit from vegetation as well as drink water from the crevices of trees. They have zygodactylous toes (two pointing forward and two pointing backwards). Also in the family; Ramphastidae are the Aracaris and Toucanets which are smaller but possess the over-sized bill.

Range and Habitat

Toucan, toucanet, aracaris range mapAll toucans reside in the New World and individual species range from mid-Central America to mid-South America. The habitat varies with the genus Ramphastos generally residing in lowland rain forests to open forest habitat. The aracaris also inhabit the warm rainforests of their habitats. Toucanet habitat varies with genus as those in Aulacorhynchus prefer cool mountainous forests from 3300 to 10,000ft whereas the genus Selenidera spend their time in lower altitude rainforests. Andigena (the mountain toucans) range from the Andes from northwest Venezuela to Bolivia in that subtropic zone to higher altitudinal temperate zones.

Status in the Wild

The IUCN Red List 2001 Shows:

Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan Near Threatened
Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan  Near Threatened
Saffron Toucanet Near Threatened
Yellow-browed Toucanet  Endangered

Courtship and Egglaying

Toucans are generally gregarious and fly in small flocks or pairs.  In season pairs will separate out of any ‘flock’ for nesting.  The larger toucans may find a hollowed crevice or snag to modify for egglaying and incubation.  The smaller toucans will utilize old woodpecker holes.  Courtship may consist of bill slapping and perhaps allopreening.  Males tend to modify the nest site and coax the female to it for her approval.  Two to four eggs are laid in the hollow nest cavity floor where only a few wood chips may remain.

Both sexes will incubate the eggs which take about 16 days.  The chicks hatch blind and naked.  Each parent broods and feeds the offspring which develop quite slowly.  They also share in nest cleaning duties.  Fledging occurs in 43-50 days.  In some species the young sleep in the nest hole; in others they do so in the cover of foliage.  They may form small family groups that can last until the next season or until they are chased from the area.

Toco chick day 1
Toco Toucans - Day 1
Photo: St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Toco  Chicks day 7
Toco Toucans - Day 7
Photo: St. Augustine Alligator Farm

 

Toco chick day 34
Toco Toucan - Day 34
Photo: Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, SC

 

Toco Toucans - 10 weeks old
Toco Toucans - Ten Weeks Old
Photo: Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, SC

Diet

Fruits, berries, tree dwelling vertebrates such as lizards and frogs and bird eggs.

Movement and Migration

Toucans, toucanets and aracaris do not migrate. Some species may move seasonally within their range.

Individual Species of Toucans, Toucanets, & Aracaris
The species highlighted below are ones that have a current TAG status. Our goal is to eventually have information on every Piciformes species.

Emerald Toucanet
Aulacorhynchus prasinus

Toco Toucan
Ramphastos toco

Tawny-tufted Toucanet
S. m. natterei

Groove-billed toucanet
A. sulcatus

Firey-bellied Aracari
P. t. frantzii

Guianan Toucanet
S. m. culik

Chestnut-tipped Toucanet
A. derbianus

Stripe-billed Aracari
P. t. sanguineus

Spot-billed Toucanet
S. m. maculirostris

Crimson-rumped Toucanet
A. haematopygus

Pacific-collared Aracari
Same as above

Gould’s Toucanet
S. gouldii

Yellow-browed Toucanet
A. huallagae

Pale-mandibled Aracari
P. t. erythropygius

Keel-billed Toucan
Ramphastos discolorus sulfuratus

Blue-banded Toucanet
A. coeruleicinctis

Ecudorian-collared Aracari
Same as above

Choco Toucan
R. d. brevis

Lettered Aracari
Pteroglossus virdis inscriptus

Curl-crested Aracari
P. beauharnaessi

Citron-throated Toucan
R. d. citreolaemus

Green Aracari
P. v. virdis

Saffron Toucanet
Baillonius bailloni

Yellow-ridged Toucan
R. d. culminates

Red-necked Aracari
P. bitorquatus

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
Andigena hypoglauca laminorostris

Channel-billed toucan
R. d. vitelinus

Ivory-billed Aracari
P. azara azara

Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan
A. h. hypoglauca

Red-breasted Toucan
R. d. discolorus

Brown-mandibled Aracari
P. a. mariae

Hooded Mountain Toucan
A. h. cucullata

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
R. ambiguus swainsonii

Chestnut-eared Aracari
P. aracari castanotis

Black-billed Mountain Toucan
A. nigirostris

Black-mandibled Toucan
R. a. ambiguus

Black-necked Aracari
P. a. aracari

Yellow-eared Toucanet
Selenidera maculirostris spectabilis

Red-billed Toucan
R. tucanus tucanus

Collared Aracari
P. torquatus torquatus

Golden-collared Toucanet
S. m. reinwardtii

Cuvier’s Toucan
R. t. cuvieri

 


Black-spotted Barbet

Black-spotted Barbet
Black-spotted Barbet
(Capito niger)
Photo: Marcus G. Martin

 


Range of the Black-spotted Barbet

Range of the Black-spotted Barbet:
Venezuela east through Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and south into Brazil.



Description:

19cm, 48-58g. Females much more heavily marked in black on underbelly.

Habitat:
Mid to high elevations in humid, montane forest and secondary vegetation.

Habits and Diet:
Found usually in pairs or small flocks it spends much time in mid to canopy range searching for fruits, berries as well as insects and spiders. It will occasionally visit human habitat to search for food, also.

Breeding:
Will nest in old woodpecker hole but may also excavate new hole in soft woods. Generally 2-5 eggs are laid. Both parents incubate the eggs and incubation lasts about 18 days. Fledging occurs around day 30. Data needed on post fledge care.

References:
Gosler, A. (1991). The Neotropic Region. Pp 94-139. Photographic Guide to Birds of the World.  Mallard Press: New York, NY. USA.

TAG Status: Phase Out

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Toucan Barbet

Toucan Barbet
Toucan Barbet
(Semnornis ramphastinus)
Photo: Lou Hegedus

 


Toucan Barbet map

Range of the Toucan Barbet:
SW Columbia, W-central Ecuador; rarely below 1000m in Columbia and 2200m in Ecuador.



Description:

25-27cm,94-108g. Female lacks tuft on head. Immature birds duller overall.

Habitat:
Prefers wet upper tropical forests, wet subtropical forests and mountainous second growth forests.

Habits and Diet:
Found in groups of up to 6 birds. Seen in low second growth with scattered trees. This specie hops branch to branch searching for food items. It is noted that after foraging toucan barbets will sit, quite still, for periods of time. Consumes fruits primarily but also insects and termites.

Breeding:
Season extends from February-October. Both sexes will excavate a cavity in a dead but firm tree from 1.5m to 19m from the forest floor. During excavation pairs may duet. In some instances helpers are present. The female tends to stay around the nest. 2-3 eggs are laid. Male, female and helpers incubate eggs for about 15 days. Young are fed many kinds of fruits, insects, flower parts, fungi and even bamboo stems by parents and helpers; the male may also feed the female. Fledging occurs in 43-46 days. The young will follow adults and beg for food. Second clutches are possible.

TAG Status: Phase Out

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Emerald Toucanet

Emerald Toucanet
Emerald Toucanet
(Aulacorynchus prasinus)
R. Hays Cummins

 


Range of the Emerald Toucanet:
From eastern and central Mexico south in the mountainous portions of Costa Rica and Panama into extreme northern Venezuela.



Description:

30-33cm, 149-160g. Sexes alike but males are slightly larger.

Habitat:
Generally a cloud forest resident but will venture into adjacent rainforests.

Habits and Diet:
Seen in pairs or small flocks of eight or so. Very active birds that cover great spans of territory while searching for food in the canopy to mid level of the forest. They consume fruits and insects but will also eat lizards, eggs and nestlings of small birds.

Breeding:
Season is typically March through July. Pair will ‘bill-fence’ as a courtship ritual; usually after nest preparations have finished. The nest is usually 2-30m above ground in an old woodpecker hole or crevice of tree. Three to four white eggs are laid. Incubation lasts about 16 days. Both parents incubate the eggs. Chicks hatch naked and blind. As with most ramphastids chick development is slow having only reached full plumage at around day 35. Fledging occurs as early as 40 days at which time the parents still feed them and the young return to the nest to roost. By day 43 most young do not return to the nest.

TAG Status: Phase Out

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Green Aracari

Green Arcari
Green Aracari
(Pteroglossus viridis)
Photo: Chuck Dresner

 


Range of the Green Aracari

Range of the Green Aracari:
Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northeastern Brazil.



Description:

30 to 40cm, 110g to 160g. Within the 6 genera of Ramphastids, aracari are smaller than toucans and larger than toucanets. The green aracari is among the smallest of its genus. Green aracari share many plumage patterns with other aracari. The sexes are nearly identical, except the male's head and neck feathers are black while the female's are a rusty chestnut. The female's bill is also a bit smaller. The green aracari's bill is more distinctly hooked than other aracaris. The eye, which has a black iris, is highlighted with a patch of blue skin in front and a patch of red behind. Immature birds are dimorphic at fledging.

Habitat:
Found mainly in tropical forests and interior savannas throughout its range. Less often found in cultivated areas.

Habits and Diet:
Green aracari congregate in small groups in the treetops of their forest home. They spend a good deal of time foraging and feeding together in the canopy to lower levels of the under story. Although they are able flyers, aracari are thought to be sedentary. They will migrate during severe food shortages. Deforestation may increase migration to commercial croplands and gardens. Fruits and berries dominate aracari diet, though nectar, flowers and insects may also be eaten. Water is provided in bromeliads and tree crevices. Like many frugivores, aracari are important seed dispersers. Vocalizations include long, monotonous purring.

Breeding:
Because little is known of wild aracari reproduction habits, nearly all has been gleaned from captive birds. Aracari require ready-made nesting holes, usually from woodpeckers. Complex courtship rituals include bill fencing, feeding or dancing. Clutch size is 2-4 eggs. After a 16-day incubation period, the chicks fledge at about 5 weeks. Both parents continue to feed the chicks for approximately 6-8 weeks. Chicks will stay with their parents for about 6 months.

References:
North American Regional Studbook by studbook keeper, Nanette Bragin; Published by the Phoenix Zoo.
Encyclopedia of Birds
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 7

TAG Status: PMP

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Red-necked Aracari

Red-necked Aracari
Red-necked Aracari
(Pteroglossus bitorquatu)
Photo: Arthur Grosset

 

 


Range of the Red-necked Aracari

Range of the Red-necked Aracari:
Central Brazil to NE Brazil.



Description:

38-45cm, 112-171. Sexes basically alike but female has little to no black at the rear of the throat; crown more brown, less black or none; yellow band on breast narrower; bill shorter (Short/Horne). Immature birds are browner overall and lack vivid coloration.

Habitat:
As a lowland species it appears in the hilly, wet, tropical evergreen forests with epiphytes and also in riverine areas. Very little is known about the local ranges of this specie.

Habits and Diet:
Feeds in pairs or small flocks; apparently active forest dweller as other ramphastids. Consumes various fruits including that of the Cecropia ssp., and the cinnamon tree (Short/Horne).  It is assumed that they do consume a certain percentage of insects. They feed and drink by taking turns. Much more research needed in this category.

Breeding:
Very little known.It is believed that courtship and nesting season is from February to August.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Black-necked Aracari

Black-necked Aracari
Black-necked Aracari
(Pteroglossus aracari)
Photo: Arthur Grosset


Range of the Black-necked Aracari

Range of the Black-necked Aracari:
Eastern Venezuela through the Guianas into northeastern Brazil. Also inhabits extreme SE Brazil.



Description:

35-45cm, 177-309g. Sexes alike but females have shorter bill. Immature birds have duller overall plumage.

Habitat:
Found in lower tropical zone rainforests, open woodland, riverine forests in savannas and fruit tree plantations.

Habits and Diet:
Spends most of its time in the canopy foraging in pairs or small flocks of 6-30 birds. Will come to mid-level to feed also. Birds roost in old woodpecker holes. Diet consists of mainly fruits but may also take insects. Known to hang/cling upside-down to reach fruits.

Breeding:
Very little known. Season is roughly February to August. In captivity both sexes ready log or box for egglaying. In the wild they probably find an old woodpecker hole and renovate it to their liking. Short and Horne found nest holes at 7m and 12m. 2-4 white eggs are laid. Both sexes incubate for a period of 16-17 days. It is noted that the male will feed the hen while she incubates eggs. Both parents feed the chicks, often by 'coughing' up food items. Fledging occurs at 40 days or so at which point it is thought the chicks become a 'non-breeder' with in a flock.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari
Collared Aracari
(Pteroglossus torquatus)


Range of the Collared Aracari

Range of the Collared Aracari:
Southern Mexico through lowlands of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia and western Ecuador and Venezuela.



Description:

39-41cm, 190-275g. Sexes alike but female has darker nape band and shorter bill.

Habitat:
Tropical forest and moist forest in lowlands to lower cloud forests in certain places; also in second growth areas, riverine areas of dry woodland, coffee and fruit plantations and swamp forests.

Habits and Diet:
Frequently seen around forest edges mainly in canopies and mid-levels. Usually seen in pairs or small (2-5) family groups or larger (12-15) flocks. They are seen busily hopping and maneuvering on branches to reach food items. Will roost together in a woodpecker hole. Consumes mainly fruits such as pawpaws, guavas, fruits of nutmeg and palm nuts but also takes eggs, nestlings, lizards and insects.

Breeding:
Season spans from January to August. Nesting occurs in a natural cavity or old woodpecker hole 6-30m from the ground. After renovating the nest cavity to their liking 2-5 eggs are laid. Nest helpers (if any) may share incubation duties as well as roost in nest. Incubation lasts 16 days. Helpers will assist in feeding and brooding. Insects, fruits and regurgitated foods are fed to the young the first month. Fledging occurs at 44 days but are led back to the nest at night for a while.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Toco Toucan

Toco Toucan
Toco Toucan
(Ramphastos toco)
Photo: Nashville Zoo



Range of the Toco Toucan

Range of the Toco Toucan:
Rare in Suriname, much more common in the Guianas southward through northern Argentina to southern Brazil.



Description:

63.5cm, 700-780g, Males slightly larger than females.

Habitat:
Prefers canopy level of forest to open forest areas including plantations and palm groves. Common around human dwellings.

Habits and Diet:
Found in pairs or small flocks that are quite boisterous as they maneuver through wooded areas searching for trees and other plant materials that bear fruit. Toco toucans consume fruits, insects, frogs, lizards and bird eggs.

Breeding:
Like other toucans, it nests in tree cavities; high in the canopy. The entrance hole is preferred to be only large enough for a bird to fit through. This cavity may also be used for several years. Bill-slapping is thought to be a courtship ritual. Two to four, white eggs are laid. Both parents share in the incubation process which lasts 16-20 days. The chicks hatch blind and naked (altricial) and like other toucan babies they have specialized heel pads that protect the chicks against the rough texture of the cavity floor. The young are cared for by both parents and fledge at around 6-10 weeks. Additional clutches may occur.

TAG Status: SSP

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Curl-crested Aracari

Curl-crested Aracari
Curl-crested Aracari
(Pteroglossus beauharnaesii)
Photo: Arthur Grosset

 


Range of the Curl-crested Aracari

Range of the Curl-crested Aracari:
Western Brazil and into SE Peru and NE Bolivia.



Description:

40-45cm, 190-280g. Sexes alike but female has shorter bill.

Habitat:
Inhabits lowland moist forest and mainly forested swamps and river edges.

Habits and Diet:
Frequents forest edges where it forages in the mid-level and canopy. Will also go to small bushes in clearings to feed and has been seen on the ground presumably feeding with other bird species. Moves about in flocks of four to 12 calling frequently. Fruits make up the vast majority of its diet.

Breeding:
Very little known. Nests in tree cavities. Captive records indicate: no courtship noticed other than increased interest in nest log and birds spending time inside it. 3-6 pure white eggs are laid. Both parents incubate for about 18 days.

TAG Status: DERP

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Saffron Toucanet

Saffron Toucanet
Saffron Toucanet
(Baillonius bailloni)
Photo: Arthur Grosset

 


Range of the Saffron Toucanet

Range of the Saffron Toucanet:
Extreme SE Brazil, also extreme eastern Paraguay and extreme NE Paraguay.



Description:

25-27cm, 156-174g.  Sexes alike but female has duller and almost olive coloration and a smaller bill.

Habitat:
Humid subtropical and (barely) tropical forests, especially those of lower mountain slopes and riversides, mostly in logged and second growth forest and forest edges (Short/Horne).

Habits and Diet:
Fairly quiet and secretive bird; seen alone or in pairs or occasionally in small family groups. Feeds on fruits including palmito fruits, figs, Cecropia fruits and potentially eggs and nestlings. More research is needed.

Breeding:
Season spans from July-August and December-April regionally. Nests in tree cavity, courtship feeding occurs as well as allopreening. Both sexes tap entrance hole. 2-3 white eggs are laid and both parents incubate for 16 days (captive records). More research needed.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
Plate-billed Mountain Toucan
(Andigena laminirostris)


Range of the Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

Range of the Plate-billed Mountain Toucan:
Confined to a small range from SW Columbia and western Ecuador.



Description:

49-52cm, 275-355g. Sexes alike but female has shorter bill; immature birds have overall duller plumage.

Habitat:
Found in moss and bromeliad shrouded, humid montane forests, forest edges and shrub edges. This areas average rainfall is 14 feet a year and the average temperatures are 52-77 F.

Habits and Diet:
Moves about in small groups (3-6 birds) within a territory foraging in fruit rich trees and defending their area. They consume a wide variety of fruits, berries, drupes and dehiscents up to 83.3g (Short/Horne).  This species will hold fruit in place and break it apart to consume. Diet is almost exclusively fruits but some insects and eggs. Seasonal movement occurs in some areas. Occurs from 1200m to 2500m but has been documented as low as 300m and as high as 3200m.

Breeding:
Season may last from March-October but generally is from May-August. Nesting occurs in tree cavities. Short and Horne indicated that this specie has a tendency to usurp toucan barbet Semnornis ramphastinus nests and renovate them to their liking. However, plate-bills are known to excavate their own holes in palm logs. Nests are 6-30m from ground. Courtship feeding occurs at the nest. After the cavity is completed the entrance hole is widened.

Clutch size is 2-3, white eggs. Incubation lasts about 16 days and fledging occurs at 46-60 days; young do not return to nest afterwards. Parents may produce a second clutch as early as 20 days after the first clutch fledges.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Guianan Toucanet

Guianan Toucanet
Guianan Toucanet
(Selenidera culik)

Guianan toucanet range

Range of the Guianan Toucanet:
Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela.



Description:

25 cm, 110-140g. Sexes alike but female has gray breast as opposed to the male's black breast.

Habitat:
Prefers moist mountain forests, less common in tropical forest and savanna, absent near coastal areas.

Habits and Diet:
A canopy dweller, it will, however, come to midlevel and understorey. Seen in pairs or small flocks of up to six. Consumes primarily fruits but also insects and small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards.

Breeding:
Season spans from March-June. Allopreening and courtship may occur. Nests are generally renovated natural cavities (i.e. old woodpecker holes or knot holes). Entrance holes are 4-5cm with the cavity itself 16-40cm deep. 2-4 white, roundish eggs are laid. Parents share in incubation which lasts about 16 days. Chicks are fed fruits and insects and fledging occurs around day 40. More research is needed regarding habits after fledging.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Spot-billed Toucanet

Spot-billed Toucanet
Spot-billed Toucanet
(Seleidera maculirostris), male
Serra dos Orgaos National Park
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
* note the tomial "teeth" - clearly visible in this photo
photo: Stephen J. Davies

 


Range of Spot-billed Toucanet

Range of the Spot-billed Toucan:
SE Brazil, extreme E Paraguay, extreme NE Argentina



Description:

35cm long, 140-200g. Spot-bill toucanets are easily distinguished from other toucanets by their unique bill pattern and colors. No other toucanets have stripes traversing their mandible. Most toucanets share green as their primary plumage color.

Spot-bills toucanets are sexually dimorphic. Both sexes have olive-green wings gradually fading to their tail, green skin around the eye and red undertail-coverts. The head and chest of males are black, while the female is chestnut. The female's beak is smaller, though it shares the unique markings with the male. Juvenile plumage is duller than adults. The black vertical bill marks develop around 2 months of age.

Like many other Ramphastids, spot-bills lack melodious vocalizations. Vocalizations include a series of 15 second gruff, growling notes. Males and females usually sing separately with somewhat similar notes.

Habitat:
Spot-bills prefer subtropical moist primary forest. They will also utilize selectively cut forest, nearby secondary patches and palm groves. They will make vertical movements of over 1000m on mountain slopes.

Habits and Diet:
Foraging singly, in pairs or small groups, spot-bills eat mainly fruit, but will also feed on insects and vertebrates. They prefer middle story and undergrowth, but will also feed on the ground and may fly to isolated fruit trees used by other toucans. Because diet digestion takes awhile, spot-bills often perch for extended periods. Water is obtained from tree crevices. Captive diet mimics their wild counterparts. They will consume cultivated fruit.

Breeding:
Although most of the spot-bills breeding behaviors are gleaned from captive records, a few things are known about those from the wild. Spot-billed toucanets nest in pairs using an abandoned woodpecker nest and maintain territories. December through June is breeding season in the northern part of their range and October through January in the southern part.

Captive spot-bills will excavate in a rotten log with a chamber to help get them started. Males initiate courtship by feeding females regurgitated fruit. Allopreening, dueting, bowing and distinctive plumage displays have been documented.

Clutch size is 2-3 eggs. Incubation is approximately 14 days. Chicks develop slowly while being fed fruit, insects and vertebrates. Chicks can be plumage sexed at approximately 30 days. Chicks will fledge at 6-7 weeks. Fledge weights have been recorded at approximately 120 grams. The adults continue to feed the chicks for 1-2 weeks after fledging. A pair of captive Spot-bills fostered and raised two 2-day-old abandoned Green Aracari chicks after fledging their own young.

Status and Conservation
Spot-billed toucanets are not globally threatened and are listed as CITES II. Strong populations live in some protected areas in Brazil. Deforestation has caused locally threaten populations in other parts of their range.

References:
Handbook of the Birds of the World, Volume 7
The Encyclopedia of Birds

TAG Status: PMP

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Keel-billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan
Keel-billed Toucan
(Ramphastos sulfuratus)
Photo: Glen Tepke

 


Range of the Keel-billed Toucan

Range of the Keel-billed Toucan:
From southern Mexico south to northern Columbia and NE Venezuela.



Description:

52cm, 400g, Males slightly larger than females.

Habitat:
Found in the lowland forest, rainforest and forest edges.

Habits and Diet:
One of the largest toucans, it can be seen in pairs or small flocks usually at dawn and dusk feeding on fruits, insects, tree frogs and lizards in the canopy or mid-level range. The flocks are very boisterous while feeding and some sparring may occur. They roost in holes in trees created naturally or by woodpeckers; they have been noted to crowd in the same hole. The keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize.

Breeding:
Nesting occurs in tree holes to suit their needs. It is believed that pairs are monogamous and courtship may entail 'bill-fencing'. Two to four eggs are laid and both parents will incubate. Eggs hatch in 16-20 days with both parents also feed the chicks which fledge after 5-6 weeks. A second or third clutch is possible.

Clutch size is 2-3, white eggs. Incubation lasts about 16 days and fledging occurs at 46-60 days; young do not return to nest afterwards. Parents may produce a second clutch as early as 20 days after the first clutch fledges.

TAG Status: SSP

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Channel-billed Toucan

Channel-billed Toucan
Channel-billed Toucan
(Ramphastos discolorus vitelinus)
Photo: courtesy St. Louis Zoo


Channel-billed Toucan Range

Range of the Channel-billed Toucan:
E and S Columbia, W-NW Venezuela, W Ecuador, C and W Peru, C and W Bolivia, E and C Brazil and extreme SE Brazil and the Guianas.



Description:

40-42cm, 300-430g. Sexes alike but female has shorter bill. Immature birds are overall duller, tomial teeth absent. It should be noted that there are several 'subspecies' with slight coloration differences.

Habitat:
Found in lowland forests, often near bodies of water, successional forest, transitional forest and terra firme forest; also in forest openings. In Guianas and Venezuela; gallery forest and tropical wet forests and subtropical forests (Short/Horne).

Habits and Diet:
Found singly, in pairs or small flocks of up to 15, visiting fruiting trees. Stays mainly in the canopy and subcanopy but will descend all the way to the ground on occasion for fallen fruits or insects. Will stalk vertebrates such as lizards, small birds and their eggs or nestlings and also mob monkeys or predators. Consumes many fruits as well as insects and small vertebrates and eggs.

Breeding:
Courtship feeding occurs in the beginning of the season which is from March-July. Nest cavities are usually high in a tree in a rotten or hollowed knot-hole or an abandoned woodpecker hole (probably a Dryocopus or Campephilus specie); and are usually used the next year if successful. Entrance holes are roughly 6x5cm but can be up to 10cm, with a depth of 30-45cm deep and lined with regurgitated seeds by the adults. Both parents roost in cavity.

2-4 white, elliptical eggs are laid and incubated for 16-18 days by both parents. Hatchlings are altricial with eyes not opening for about 15-20 days. Young are fed animal food (insects, small vertebrates) also by both parents. At week three pin feathers appear on young and by week seven they appear well feathered. Fledging generally occurs around day 40.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Red-breasted Toucan

Red-breasted Toucan
Red-breasted Toucan
(Toco discolorus discolorus)

 


Range of the Red-b reasted Toucan

Range of the Red-breasted Toucan:
SE Brazil, southern Paraguay and eastern Argentina.



Description:

40-46cm, 265-400g. Sexes alike but female has shorter bill. Immature birds have duller plumage and bill.

Habitat:
Ranges in tropical and subtropical montane forests, forest edge and scrub.

Habits and Diet:
Forages alone and in small groups (generally no more than 8 but up to 23 have been noted) in the canopy but has been known to descend to the ground to feed on fallen fruits. Consumes a wide variety of fruits including coffee and orchard species. Also eats insects, small birds and nestlings.

Breeding:
Season spans from October-February. Allopreening and courtship feeding can occur. Pairs will excavate a cavity in a rotten snag 6m-8m from the ground. 2-4 white eggs are laid and incubation lasts 16 days; both parents share incubation duties. Both parents may roost with nestlings. Fledging occurs at around 42 days.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
(TRamphastos ambiguus swainsonii)
Photo: Panama Audubon Society

 

Chestnut-mandibled toucan range

Range of the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan:
Southeastern Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica to Columbia and south along the Andes to Ecuador.



Description:

53-56cm, 599-746g. Sexes alike with males possessing larger bill. Immature birds are sooty black with less maroon tipping and the red and white colors are more muted.

Habitat:
Found mainly in lowland forests and mountain slopes, cloudforests. Also frequents secondary forests, forest clearings, riverine forests, plantations and gardens with trees.

Habits and Diet:
Prefers the canopy level, but occasionally comes lower at times. Feeds primarily on fruit but also will feed on various insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds; including eggs and nestlings.

Breeding:
December to July in all areas. Courtship consists of allopreening and food swapping. They nest natural tree cavities at heights of 5-15m. The nest entrance is often small. 2-4 eggs are laid. Both parents incubate, feed chicks and defend nest from predators.

References:
Short, L.L. & Horne J. F. M. (2002). Family Ramphastidae (Toucans). Pp 220-272 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. (2002). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions: Barcelona

TAG Status: SSP

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Black-mandibled Toucan

Black-mandibled Toucan
Black-mandibled Toucan
(Ramphastos ambiguus ambiguus)

 


Black-mandibled Toucan map

Range of the Black-mandibled Toucan:
SE Honduras, Nicaragua, C and E Costa Rica and Panama, SW Ecuador (Andes slopes), W Venezuela (Andes slopes), E Columbia (Andes slopes), C Peru.



Description:

53-56cm, 620-740g. Sexes alike but female has an overall shorter body and noticeably shorter bill. Immatures have overall duller plumage, diffused bill pattern. Regarding subspecies of R. ambiguus, Short and Horne had the following to say: differences among the subspecies (R. a. ambiguus, R. a. abbreviatus and R. a. swainsonii) are very small, involving bill color features that are not absolute, nor is the color of the orbital skin likely to be of much importance, given its variations...

Habitat:
Prefers lowland tropical and mountain slopes, tropical and subtropical wet and moist forest, swamp forest, forest patches, old second growth and gallery forests, plantations and even golf courses with large trees.

Habits and Diet:
More often seen in the canopy and subcanopy it will come to midlevel and understorey to feed. Flocks of up to 20 birds may gather when fruits are abundant; sometimes mixing with keel-billed or choco toucans. Consumes a wide variety of fruits, flower parts and insects including: cicadas, termites and walking sticks as well as small mammals, birds, lizards and snakes. Because of its size this toucan has very few predators which allows it to eat in one area for lengthy periods of time.

Breeding:
Season spans from March-June. Allopreening and courtship feeding occur. Nests are natural cavities in decaying wood (i.e. knot holes, woodpecker holes) that are renovated slightly by the pair. Nests are generally 7- 27m from the ground. The entrance is barely large enough for the birds to squeeze through.

Much more research is needed regarding the actual nesting period of this species. 2-4 elliptical, white eggs are laid and incubated for 16 days. Both parents care for the young which fledge around day 47.

TAG Status: Phase out

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Red-billed Toucan


Red-billed Toucan
(Ramphastos tucanus tucanus)
Photo: Arthur Grosset


Red-billed Toucan map

Range of the Red-billed Toucan:
E Peru, E Ecuador, S and C NW Bolivia.



Description:

50-56cm, 540-700g. Sexes alike but female's bill shorter. Immatures have overall duller plumage.

Habitat:
Lowland forest, subtropical montane forest, successional floodplain forest, old riverbed forests, old second growth forests, forest patches, plantations, river edge and varzea forest, gardens, sometimes seen in mangrove forests and large towns.

Habits and Diet:
Seen in pairs, and flocks of up to six, rarely 20, in the canopy. Flock will move one by one. Roosts in trees, side by side. Eats a wide variety of fruits, insects, arthropods and eggs.

Breeding:
Season spans from March-July. Allopreening and courtship feeding occurs regularly. Nesting usually in a rotten hollow from 3-20m from the ground. Entrance holes are 6x12cm but as large as 15x16cm with the cavity 29-120cm deep; they are lined with seeds, pits, and wood bits (Short/Horne).

2-3, white and elliptical eggs are laid and are incubated by both parents for 15-16 days. Hatchlings are altricial. Both adults feed chicks; fruits, insects and small vertebrates. By week four the chick's eyes are opened and by week five they are feathered out fairly well. Fledging occurs around day 48. The young follow parents away from nest site eventually. From this point more research is needed.

TAG Status: Phase out

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