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Toucans: Brightly-Beaked Birds printer.gif

Toucans are probably the most easily recognized bird in the rainforest. However, because toucans live so high in the canopy, they can be hard to spot.

They nest in tree holes lower down in the canopy. But, toucans spend the majority of their time high in the rainforest canopy.

Toucans also have a very distinct, shrill, and loud call. To me it sounds almost like a really loud cricket chirp or frog. Some folks say that the toucan be heard through the rainforest for over a half-mile.

Perhaps what makes a toucan so recognizable its over-sized, colorful beak. The beaks can often half of the entire body length of the bird. But, thankfully for the toucan, their beaks are hollow. If their beaks were not hollow, there would be no way a toucan could keep their head up.

Inside the bill is a long and narrow tongue, which is frayed on the sides to increase the sense of taste. The toucan's tongue runs the whole length of the beak.

There are 42 species of Toucans found throughout the tropics. Perhaps the most recognized toucan is the Toco Toucan because of its association with the cereal, Fruit Loops. At least 15 species of toucans live in the Amazon rainforest. There are also over 20 species of toucanets and aracaris, cousins of the toucans, which have large, colorful beaks.

Toucans are considered frugivorous, meaning they eat mostly fruits and seeds. Toucans will also eat small insects and small reptiles. Maybe their varied diet is why they have such a big beak.

For further explorations, check out the following web sites.

Wilderness Classroom's Rainforest Library: Toucans

National Geographic's Animal Photos and Facts

Belize Zoo's Video and Sound Clips of Toucans

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