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Ramphastidae – Toucans

Keel-billed Toucan in Costa Rica: Photo by Jaap Velden

Ramphastidae, commonly known as toucans, comprises around 42 species found exclusively in the forests of Central and South America. These distinctive birds are characterized by their large and colorful bills, often adorned with striking patterns. Toucans are primarily frugivorous, feeding on a variety of fruits, but they also consume insects, small vertebrates, and eggs.

Overview of Ramphastidae

Small to medium-sized non-passerines boasting oversized and intricately patterned bills, toucans have gained widespread recognition through their frequent portrayal in popular culture and advertising. While their diet primarily consists of fruit, they also consume significant amounts of animal matter. In various regions of the Neotropics, toucans play a crucial role as predators of other birds’ nests, sometimes attracting aggressive behavior from groups of passerines. Their distinctive bills, featuring nostrils positioned atop the base, serve as efficient heat dissipators for species spending extended periods in the upper forest canopy under the scorching tropical sun.