The Keel-Billed Toucan is a Live Technicolor Extrvaganza

Keel-Billed Toucan

While the bill seems large and cumbersome, it is in fact a spongy, hollow bone covered in keratin, a very light and hard protein.

The toucan family is the national bird of Belize. The species is found in tropical jungles from southern Mexico to Colombia. It is an omnivorous forest bird that feeds on fruits, seeds, insects, invertebrates, lizards, and snakes Toucans are well-known for their large, sharp, brightly colored bills (beaks). They use their long bills to reach for fruit on the tips of branches that might be out of reach of other birds.

The plumage of the keel-billed toucan is mainly black with a yellow neck and chest. Molting occurs once per year. It has blue feet and red feathers at the tip of its tail. The bill is mainly green with a red tip and orange sides.

Keel-billed toucans have zygodactyl feet (or feet with toes facing in different directions) – two toes face forward and two face back. Because toucans spend a large portion of time in the trees, this helps the birds to stay on the branches of the trees and jump from one branch to another.

The keel-billed toucan can be found from Southern Mexico to Venezuela and Colombia. It roosts in the canopies of tropical, subtropical, and lowland rain forests, up to altitudes of 6,200 ft It roosts in holes in trees often with several other toucans. This can be very cramped, so the birds tuck their tails and beaks under their bodies to conserve space while sleeping. Adding to the lack of space, the bottoms of the holes are often covered with pits from the fruit the toucans have eaten.

Like many toucans, keel-billed toucans are very social birds, rarely seen alone. They fly in small flocks of approximately six to twelve individuals through lowland rain forests. Their flight is slow and undulating, consisting of rapid wing beats (six to ten), then a glide with the bird’s beak extending forward and dipping downward as though pulling the rest of the bird. Their feet are drawn up forward in flight. The flight distances are typically short. They live together in groups, often sharing cramped living quarters of holes in trees. There is a family structure within the group. Birds often “duel” with each other using their bills and throw fruit at each other.   (Wikipedia)