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Cuban Tody

Todus multicolor

Cuban Tody

  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Todidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Farnsworth, Andrew

Life History


Insectivorous, occasionally taking spiders; also occasionally takes fruit and small lizards including Anolis (Forshaw 1987, Kepler 2001).


Forages at many heights, in scrub and at understory levels.  Flycatching off leaves and underleaf sallying is common.  Will occasionally take insects and spiders in mid-air, or snap an insect off a branch or stone in a clay embankment (Raffaele et al. 1998, Kepler 2001).


Engages in wing-whirring and active, short flights, in territorial disputes.  May be highly vocal around nest burrow, interacting frequently with conspecific intruders and occasionally with inter-specific intruders (Rolle 1961, Forshaw 1987, Kepler 2001; Farnsworth personal observations).

Sexual Behavior

Breeds primarily from March to July; pairs often stay together year-round (Raffaele et al. 1998, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000, Kepler 2001).

Social and interspecific behavior

Pairs often found together, and pairs travel with young in small territories.  Rarely (?) seen to interact aggresively with wintering migrant warblers (e.g. Black-throated Blue Warblers) when searching for insects (Farnsworth personal observations).


Eggs of the genus Todus are eaten in some places by humans (e.g. Haiti), though this is not explicitly known from any locations in Cuba.


Nest in hole burrowed in clay embankments, burrow approximately 30 cm in length; occasionally in a rotten trunk or even at the entrance to limestone caves; also near burrows of sand crabs (Raffaele et al. 1998, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000, Kepler 2001).  Lining of nest and nest entrance with grass, lichen, small feathers, and a sticky, almost glue-like substance, apparently; these components may act as a sealant (Raffaele et al. 1998, Kepler 2001). Eggs, usually 3-4, white, are the smallest of all reported for the genus (Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000, Kepler 2001).  Both parents may incubate and provide care for nestlings.  Young are altricial.  Some anecdotal evidence suggests that provisioning rates may be, for each chick, up to 140 times per day.

Populations and Demography

Little information, other than this species is extremely common in many parts of Cuba.  During surveys in 2004 this species was found to be abundant in point counts and transect counts in Parques Nacionales Bayamesa and Alejandro de Humboldt (Farnsworth unpublished data).

Recommended Citation

Farnsworth, Andrew. 2009. Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: