Interesting Facts About Toucans – Beak & Colors

Toucans are a popular bird species native to South America, Southern Mexico, and the Caribbean region.

This amazing bird is instantly recognizable due to its brightly colored beak and other distinctive features.

This article will highlight interesting facts about this magnificent bird and introduce you to what makes them beautiful and intriguing.

Let’s dive into understanding what toucans are about.

A Toucan & Its Distinctive Features

Visually, a toucan is an attractive bird that can grow up to 25 inches. The smallest toucan recorded has been as little as 14 inches.

Due to their short bodies, long tails, and thick necks, toucans can easily live in small areas.

Since most of their habitat consists of thick rainforest vegetation, they can easily fit themselves in small spaces to hunt, feed, seek shelter, or hide from predators.

Like other non-flight birds, toucans also have smaller wings that help them balance and glide while searching for food. Flying or soaring across the sky is not a distinctive feature found in toucans.

However, the toucan is most distinguished for its huge beak with brilliant colors. Toucan’s beak can be as big as 7 1/2 inches, depending upon how old the bird is.

Even though toucans have extremely big beaks, they are pretty lightweight because they are essentially hollow.

They are made up of keratin, which is the same material human hair and nails are made of.

A toucan instinctively uses its huge beak to dig or forage into deeper holes that are not accessible to other bird species.

This helps it feed on insects, fruits, and eggs of other birds. Their beaks are a huge advantage here.

Interest Facts About A Toucan’s Beak & Colors

Now that we have discussed the main distinguishable features of this magnificent bird, let’s move on to the part where we outline some of the most interesting facts about a toucan!

  1. The largest toucan species recorded in history is the Toco Toucan, going up to 25 inches. It also has a neon orange beak that can be as large as 8 inches.
  2. A toucan’s colorful beak helps it camouflage among the South American plants found in the forest. This helps them safely scavenger for food as well as hide from predators.
  3. A toucan has one of the largest beaks found on any bird species
  4. A toucan’s beak is pretty huge, considering the size of its body. The beak to body ratio found on a toucan is bigger than all other bird species in the world.
  5. They use their beaks to hollow out existing tree hollows so that they can make sufficient space for themselves.
  6. A toucan’s beak also has a rapid blood flow system like human nails.
  7. To stay warm, toucans can adjust the blood flow to their beak. This helps them conserve body heat and stay warmer for long periods.
  8. Toucans generally sleep on their beaks. This helps them conserve body heat especially during cold nights.
  9. Interestingly enough, toucan babies are not born with a mighty beak. The beak develops as the baby comes out of its 20-day incubation period. It grows in terms of color and strength as the baby gets older.
  10. The beak of a toucan isn’t as heavy as it appears. It is very lightweight as it is sometimes larger than a toucan’s own body. Small holes in the beak help airflow through, keeping the beak as light as possible.
  11. These amazing creatures also have incredibly long and narrow tongues that can go up to six inches.
  12. Even though a toucan’s beak appears very hard and strong, it is pretty soft. Almost all other bird species have hard beaks, which help them in digging and foraging. A toucan cannot use its beak for fighting or aggressive digging.
  13. A toucan’s beak has serrated edges to help them handle food better. This helps them chew fruits, eggs, and anything else they want to eat. These serrated edges are commonly found on knives that we use to slice bread or meat.
  14. The beak structure is made of keratin on the outside, while the inside portion of a toucan’s beak is part bone.
  15. Other than gorgeous oranges, yellow, and reds, several other colors are found on a toucan’s beak. The combinations, however, depend on which toucan species you’re looking at. Their beaks can also have green, black, and brown hues mixed with the usual sunset colors.
  16. Scientists suggest that a large colorful bill might play a huge role in mating and courtship rituals in toucans. A brightly colored beak can be an alluring factor for potential mates.
  17. The size of a toucan beak can be an intimidating factor for predators, especially when they have to compete for food. Even though a toucan’s beak won’t handle an actual fight, it can be successful in intimidating others due to its massive size.
  18. Since their beak has a lot of hollow space, they use it for carrying food from one place to another.

Other Interesting Things To Know About Toucans

  1. Toucans like to take shelter in tree hollows created by woodpeckers. They prefer hiding inside tree trunks to hide from predators or to rest.
  2. Toucans can be considered an endangered species especially due to our forests’ troubles lately. Deforestation, unwarranted fires, and overall pollution have destroyed their numbers.
  3. The illegal animal and pet trade is another reason why there is a decline in the toucan population.
  4. Despite the issues with their natural habitat, toucans have tough survival skills. They can adapt to difficult conditions pretty quickly compared to other bird species.
  5. This beautiful rainforest bird has more than 40 species found in rainforests across the planet. South America, however, is its original home.
  6. Native American tribes consider the toucan as a symbol of communication and showmanship. This is why you can find several toucan images etched onto ancient totem poles left behind by the Native American tribes.
  7. A toucan has an impressive life expectancy of more than 20 years. They tend to live longer than a lot of other bird species.
  8. Most birds are known to be chirpy in the morning and to quiet down as the nighttime comes closer. However, a toucan is known to become noisier as the day progresses, and late afternoon is the peak time for its noisy calls.
  9. The rainbow-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize.
  10. People often mistake hornbills to be a close relative of the toucan. However, a toucan is more closely related to a woodpecker than a hornbill.
  11. Just like a baby hen, a baby toucan is also called a chick.
  12. Jaguars and snakes are toucan’s top animal predators. Humans, on the other hand, are also considered a predator because of their visual appeal.
  13. Since a toucan has incredibly small wings, they are not able to fly far. They use their wings instead to maintain their balance while hopping and glide from one short distance to another. Their smaller, strong wings help them jump from tree to tree whenever they are looking for food or shelter.
  14. Toucans are social birds. They like to hang out in flocks of three, and sometimes even twelve. It is not uncommon for 22 toucans to be found together.
  15. Toucans are also monogamous birds. Their mating and courtship rituals generally include tossing fruit to each other as an act of love.
  16. Toucans are very useful for rainforests, not only for adding a visual appeal but also for maintaining the forest’s vegetation. Their droppings have all the necessary minerals needed to make the ground fertile enough for more plant growth. 

Toucans In Popular Media

Toucans have been a part of popular media for more than half a century.

From cereal boxes to television shows, children have seen toucans on their favorite products for quite some time now.

For the past 50 years, Kellogg’s popular breakfast cereal Froot Loops has had Toucan Sam as its mascot.

Moreover, the mascot found its way on several merchandise items and television commercials as well.

In terms of television, Dora the Explorer featured a toucan that the main character would seek advice from.

Perhaps the reason behind this is its interesting beak, and how the colors found on it are incredibly appealing.

Wrapping Up

Undoubtedly, toucans are incredibly interesting birds – especially in terms of their appearance.

With their visual appeal, toucans have become a victim of the pet trade and other illegal poaching habits.

Their magnificent beaks have become a reason why they are illegally hunted in South Asian forests today.

It is imperative that we protect the beautiful species on our planet and save them from harm.

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