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Yellow-throated Toucan Ramphastos ambiguus

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Ramphastidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Ari A. Rice, Jason D. Weckstein, and J. Engel


Conservation Status

The IUCN (BirdLife International 2016) lists Yellow-throated Toucan as a Near Threatened species. Although this species has a very large geographic range (598,000 km2), the pace of deforestation in the South American portion of its range is "extensive enough to still constitute a primary threat".

In eastern Ecuador, where Yellow-throated Toucan is very local, Ridgely and Greenfield (2003: 422) note: “Given its patchy distribution, evident rarity, and the substantial deforestation that has taken place across much of its range, we conclude that the Black-mandibled Toucan [subspecies ambiguus] deserves Near-threatened status in Ecuador. The species as a whole is not considered to be at risk, though in our view it seems clear that populations in many areas are much reduced".

Effects of human activity on populations

Yellow-throated Toucan is able to tolerate some human disturbance and forest alteration, but is nonetheless affected greatly by habitat loss. Clear-cutting for agriculture is especially devastating since toucans tend to be weak flyers and cannot cross large tracts of open land. Surveys in western Colombia and western Ecuador have shown that these toucans decline or suffer local extinctions where forest fragmentation is prevalent (Leck 1979, Kattan et al. 1994). Although it is possible for Yellow-throated Toucans to survive in degraded or second-growth forest bordering farmland, they occur in much smaller numbers and are more vulnerable to hunting pressure (Smith 2005). Hunting itself may pose a threat for this species, as toucans are large, conspicuous targets, can be lured in by calls, and are reported to taste good (Short and Horne 2001). In one Panamanian village, Yellow-throated Toucans accounted for nearly 10% of all gamebirds captured in a seven-month period (Smith 2010).

Recommended Citation

Rice, A. A., J. D. Weckstein, and J. Engel (2010). Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus), version 2.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.