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Rainforest Toucan

Facts About The Rainforest Toucan

The name rainforest toucan is almost a redundancy as the toucan lives only in the rainforest, and the greatest threat to these beautiful and unusual birds occurs when tropical rainforests are being destroyed. There are over 3 dozen species of toucan, ranging in size from about half a foot to two feet in length.  For most species, about a third of the bird’s length is accounted for by the seemingly greatly oversized bill. The rainforest toucan is a relative of the woodpecker. In fact toucans often nest in holes or cavities of trees that have been created by woodpeckers in their search for insects. The woodpeckers themselves do not usually use the same cavities. It is an extremely colorful bird, with the image of the toucan on cereal boxes not being a wild exaggeration.

One would think, from looking at a picture of almost any rainforest toucan, that the bill would be somewhat of a bother, and a heavy thing to carry around. The fact is, the bill is very light and for the toucan is a very useful appendage. For one thing it is very sharp, having saw-like edges, useful for snipping off fruit, which is the toucan’s favorite food, Because of its sharp edges the bill can also be a formidable defensive weapon even though the bill as a whole is somewhat light and fragile. The toucan can adequately defend itself against many predators though usually will come out second best against the big cats, including the jaguar. Most predators, which include lizards and snakes, are primarily a danger to toucan eggs or the very young birds, and not so much a danger to the adults.

Fruit Tossing – One can also gain an appreciation of the usefulness of the toucan’s bill by watch the way it eats. If you have ever tried eating grapes by tossing them into the air and catching them in your mouth, you know there is a certain degree of skill involved. The toucan eats fruit by tossing it in the air and catching it in its ample-sized bill, with the greatest of ease. Toucans have even been observed tossing fruit and berries to one another.

The rainforest toucan is a gregarious creature. The phrase “three’s company” fits, as the toucan is often observed in flocks of three, if three birds can be called a flock, and in somewhat larger flocks as well. A number of toucans generally share the same area in the forest and normally do not travel significant distances to other areas. Home is where the fruit, berries, and rainforest canopy are. These birds are rarely seen on the ground, spending most of their time moving from branch to branch in the high rainforest canopy. They can occasionally be seen flying about, but could not be classified as particularly graceful fliers, nor do they fly long distances.

Who’s The Loudest Of The All? – The toucan’s sharp bill does provide a measure of defense, and the fact that its rests and nests high in the rainforest canopy also provides it with a good deal of protection. It’s main line of defense however is its shrill call, which can be heard a half mile away, even in the thick jungle. The toucan is reputedly the loudest animal in the Central and South American rainforests, and its loud call alerts other toucans, and probably most any other living thing, that a jaguar or some other predator is no the prowl. Most of the time of course the toucan is simply being loud because that’s what toucans are.

Fairly large, extremely colorful, somewhat playful, very loud, and apparently quite intelligent, with an oversized bill thrown in for good measure, pretty much sums up the rainforest toucan.

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