Keeled Billed Toucan

Ramphastos Sulfuratus



Kingdom Animalia

Phylum Chordata

Class Aves

Order Piciformes

Family Ramphastidae


The Keel Billed Toucan is also known as the Rainbow Billed Toucan because of its signature beak.  It ranges anywhere from 17 to 22 inches in height, and their bill is about 5 to 6 inches long, roughly a third of its height.  The main body is mostly black with a yellow neck and chest, with blue feet, and red feathers on its tail.  The beak is mostly green with a red tip and orange on the sides.  Although the beak is very large, it’s actually made of a protein keratin making it very light.  The toucan is a very poor flying bird, so to accommodate this, it’s feet has four toes, two facing opposite directions which allows them to hold onto limbs since they sit in trees most of the day.


The Keel Billed Toucan inhabits tropical and subtropical rainforests, which usually ranges from Southern Mexico to Northern Columbia, and is also the national bird for Belize.  For most of the day it roosts in holes in the canopies of the trees in the rainforests, often with many of the same other birds.  It sleeps in the holes by wrapping his beak around to the back of his body, to conserve space for the other birds in the hole. 


The Keel Billed Toucan is a very sociable bird, so they are mainly seen flying in flocks or grouped together on the branches of trees.  They have a loud croaking call that can be heard up to half a mile away and when feeding, they usually croak constantly to one another.  Their beak allows them to pluck large fruit off of tree limbs, and is also used in courtship as well as defense where the bang their beaks together.


When Keel Billed Toucan’s reproduce, they are considered monogamous, in which both the male and female take turns incubating the small clutch of eggs that the female produced.  Even after the newborns hatch, the parents still trade off on feeding and caring for their young.  The newborns stay in the nest until they are ready to fly, and until their beaks mature, which takes about 5 to 6 weeks.  The adults can have up to three clutches a year.


The diet of the toucan is mostly a wide range of fruit, in which their beak actually allows them to eat very large fruit and pick them apart with their bill and swallow them whole.  They also eat on other things such as small eggs, insects, and small reptiles such as lizards.


Since the Keel Billed Toucan mostly eats on fruit, the only things it preys on would be small reptiles and insects, which don’t put much harm to their population.  Predators of the toucan include humans that hunt the bird, or that are involved with deforestation, also large birds and weasels are predators to the toucan.  An ecological advantage that the toucans possess is that when they eat fruit, they disperse the seeds of the fruit rapidly through either their feces or by dropping some while eating.

Personal Interest:

The reason why I chose the Keel Billed Toucan is that it is such a spectacular and colorful looking bird.  Birds such as these aren’t seen in the wild around here, so to be able to see a bird such as this one would be very amazing.  Also, this bird is the national bird of Belize, which is a place where I will soon be travelling. 


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