Toucan

 

1. Habitat (WHERE THEY LIVE)

Toucans are found in South and Central America in the canopy layer of the rainforest. The canopy layer is the primary layer of the forest and forms a roof over the two remaining layers (understory and forest floor).  Most canopy trees have smooth, oval leaves that come to a point.  Toucans make their homes in holes in the trees of the canopy layer.

2. Appearance (WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE)

There are about 40 different kinds of toucans. They vary in size from about 15 cm to a little over 65 cm. They have short and thick necks. The legs are strong and rather short, with large scales. The toes are arranged in pairs, with the first and fourth turned backward. Males and females are same in color. The feathers of the largest toucans are generally black with touches of white, yellow, and scarlet. In smaller toucans, the under parts are yellow.

Toucans are distinguished by large, colorful, yet lightweight bills. The color of the bill may be black, blue, brown, green, red, white, yellow or a combination of colors.  A toucan's bill is sharp and has saw-like edges. The bill is used to squash the many kinds of fruit and berries he eats. He may also use the saw-like edges to tear off parts of larger fruits.  The toucan’s tongue is feathered.

 

3. Diet

Toucans eat mostly fruit, but also eat bird eggs, insects, and tree frogs. The toucan eats by snipping the fruit off the tree with its’ bill, throwing it up in the air, and swallowing it. Toucans swallow fruit whole and then regurgitate the seeds.   This disperses viable (living) seeds in the forest.


4.  Raising Babies

During mating, the Toucan partners play a game where they toss berries to each other with their beaks.  Toucan’s usually live in pairs or small flocks.  Two to four white, glossy eggs are laid once a year.  It takes 14 – 20 days for the eggs to hatch.   When the eggs hatch, the new chicks have no down covering them.  To feed the young, one parent eats some food, then throws it up into the baby's mouth. The young will not go hunting with the parents, but one parent is always with the baby while the other hunts, till the baby is 6 weeks old.

5. Why is the Toucan Endangered?

The feathers, nor the bill, or anything on the toucan is usually sold or made into a product. Humans’ have destroyed the habitats (the part of the rainforest it lives in).  The toucan is very important to the rainforest because they help to disperse seeds from the fruits and berries they eat.  The toucan does not have many young, which can also be why it is more endangered.


6. Interesting Facts

When they sleep, they turn their heads around and tuck their bills under their wings and tail. Toucans are one of the noisiest jungle birds, with a croak like a frog that can be heard for half a mile!




7. Other Websites

http://www.srl.caltech.edu/personnel/krubal/rainforest/Edit560s6/www/animals/toucanpage.html

http://www.amersol.edu.pe/ms/7th/7block/jungle_research/new_cards/40/report_40.html

http://www.costarica-homeschool.com/cw/toucans.htm


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