Creatures of the Amazon
The Toucan

By Mike Collis

Ramphastos Toco

The Toucan is probably the most well known bird of the Amazon rainforest. So well known in fact the Toucan is the trade mark for a number of international companies, Guinness being one of them. These birds can be found as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Argentina. The largest population of toucans is in the Amazon rainforest. The Toucan really is the symbol of the Amazon with its yellowy orange beak which can be as long as 9 inches. Its plumage is mainly black on the body, white neck and chest with a splash of blue around the eyes. The toucan has a very long tongue which is as long as its beak. Living in flocks of up to 6 individuals these birds can grow up to 25 inches and usually they have a lifespan of up to 20 years. Usually they live in holes in tree trunks and they eat fruit, nuts and berries but eat insects and small lizards now and again. They are very noisy and their shrieks can be heard up to a half a mile away. During their noisy mating season mating pairs can be seen hurling nuts and berries at each other which they catch easily with their long beaks.

There are about 40 species of Toucan spread throughout South America of which 3 are endangered and 1 is on the threatened list. Toucans make wonderful pets but the indigenous people of the rainforest view the Toucan as a conduit between the spirit world and humans.
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