At the Zoo
You can find the keel-billed toucan in the South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary.
- This species is also referred to as the “rainbow-billed toucan” and the “sulfur-breasted toucan”.
- These birds play an important part in maintaining the health of rainforest ecosystems as they help to disperse seeds.
- Their “creek-creek” vocalizations sound like tree frogs.
- They are the national bird of Belize.
Keel-billed toucans are one of the larger toucan species, at about 20 inches in length. They are mostly black in color with a yellow bib, white rump, and bright red feathers under the tail. Both the legs and skin around their eyes are pale blue. Wide, short wings allow them to get around in dense forests but are not useful for long-distance flight. Their characteristically bright bill is green with splashes of blue and orange and tipped in red. Although the bill can be up to one third the length of the bird’s entire body, it is made of keratin and is lightweight. Males are generally larger than females with larger bills.
Lifespan is 15-20 years.
They are tropical birds found from southern Mexico through Central America to northern Colombia and Venezuela. Their habitat includes lowland rainforest and montane subtropical forests.
These toucans primarily eat fruit but will also eat insects, spiders, small reptiles, eggs and fledglings, and tree frogs.
Keel-billed toucans are crepuscular and forage for food in the forest canopy, rarely coming down to the ground. They are typically found in pairs or small flocks, sometimes up to 20 individuals. Groups not only tend to forage together but also prefer to roost together. Several birds will stuff themselves into a tree cavity- so close that they have the habit of tucking their tail over their back and beneath their wings in order to save space.
Breeding occurs year-round in most of its range. Pairs are usually monogamous and both the male and female care for chicks. Nests are made in natural tree cavities or those made by woodpeckers. Over time the nest bottom becomes lined with an assortment of regurgitated fruit pits. A clutch of 2-4 white eggs are incubated for 16-20 days. Chicks fledge around 45 days and are independent at 8-9 weeks, after their bills have fully developed.
Status In The Wild
Keel-billed toucans are listed as least concern by the IUCN but appear on appendix II of CITES. They are threatened in parts of their range by habitat loss, over-collection for the pet trade, and hunting for meat and ornamental feathers.