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Toco Toucan

About Toco Toucan

Large bird with huge, deep bill up to 8.5 inches (21cm) long, and short, rounded wings. Its feet have a yoke-toed arrangement, with two toes facing forward and two backward, giving it a strong grip on branches. Its plumage is black with white throat and uppertail coverts and red undertail coverts; legs blue to grayish; bill bright reddish-orange with black band at base and large black patch at tip of upper mandible; eyes brown, surrounded by patch of orange bare skin.

This bird’s breeding season varies. It will nest in tree holes, often abandoned by or stolen from other birds, and it will be lined with fruit stones. They have 2-4 white eggs. Taken care of by both male and female.

Like other toucans, the Toco’s amazing bill is a hollow structure of light-weight horn supported by internal struts. It is a highly efficient, accurate food gathering organ. Using the tip of its bill, this bird can pick up a fruit with great dexterity and toss it into the back of its throat to swallow it, or pluck an unfortunate nestling bird from deep with a tree hole.

Its bill is used for other functions also. It can be used to threaten other kinds of birds competing for limited fruit, and to frighten off the parents of the nestlings that form part of the toucan’s diet. It also uses its bill for a dueling weapon in dramatic bouts of bill-fencing, probably connected with establishing dominance within the group. The Toco is the largest of the toucans and is usually seen in small flocks of up to 12 birds. They live in trees, perching and feeding high in the canopy, but sometimes descend to the ground where they move with big hops.