Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus

  • Order: Coraciiformes
  • Family: Todidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Aleshia Fremgen


Male Puerto Rican Tody.
© Christoph Moning , Guánica , Puerto Rico , 9 January 2016
Male Puerto Rican Tody dorsal view.
© Jay McGowan , Guánica , Puerto Rico , 20 April 2014
Female Puerto Rican Tody.
© Benny Diaz , Lajas , Puerto Rico , 4 May 2017
Female Puerto Rican Tody in the entrance to a nest burrow.

Photographed in Guanica Dry Forest 7 July 2010 by Mike Morel: http://mikemorelphotography.zenfolio.com.

© Mike Morel , Puerto Rico , 7 July 2010
Juvenile Puerto Rican Tody.
© Mike Morel , Puerto Rico , 6 June 2013

Distinguishing Characteristics

Puerto Rican Tody is small (11 cm) and chunky, with bright green on the back like most species in the genus Todus (Raffaele 1989). They have a red throat and lower mandible, with a long, broad bill. The flanks are yellow with a white breast.

Similar Species

Puerto Rican Tody is the only endemic tody on Puerto Rico; other tody species do not overlap the range of this species. Additionally, all other species of todies have some pink with yellow or yellow green coloration on their flanks, whereas Puerto Rican Tody has no pink on the flanks (Kepler 1972, Bond 1985). Puerto Rican Tody is the only small species that is primarily bright green in Puerto Rico, other than hummingbirds (Raffaele 1989).

Detailed Description

Adults (male and female alike): The upper parts of the body, and sides of head, are plain green, with a slight blue coloration posteriorly (Ridgway 1914). The sides of the head are usually a clearer green color. The chin, malar stripe, and lower foreneck are white, as well as the central under parts of the body. The throat is geranium red, and the feathers are tipped with silvery white (Ridgway 1914). The white underside fades into sulfur yellow on the sides, flanks, and on the underside of the tail coverts, and the flanks on some individuals may have an orange tinge (Ridgway 1914). The chest is shaded with gray (Ridgway 1914). The wing edge is white, and the under wing coverts and axillars are sulfur yellow (Ridgway 1914). Wings are short and rounded, with the fifth through eighth primaries being the longest (Ridgway 1914). The tail is two-thirds to three-fourths as long as the wing, and has a rounded end, with narrow rectrices that have broadly rounded tips (Ridgway 1914).

Immature: Lacks red throat coloration and chest may be striped with dusky gray (Ridgway 1914). Additionally, immature birds have a shorter bill than adults (Raffaele 1989).


Tody plumage becomes worn during the breeding season as time spent grooming decreases due to the demands of parental activities, and an annual post-nuptial molt occurs (Kepler 1972). Body and flight feather molt was observed in Guánica State Forest beginning in fall (September), with flight feather molt completed one to two months later and the body molt completed in mid-winter (January) (J. Toms, personal communication). However, the sample was limited, and timing of molt in Guánica could be different from other parts of the island because Guánica shows more pronounced seasonality.

Bare Parts

The maxilla is blackish with a paler tip (Ridgway 1914). The mandible is a dull vermillion in life, although it is pale brown or a brownish white color in study skins (Ridgway 1914). The bill is as long or longer than the head, flattened, and finely serrated along the edges (Ridgway 1914). The depth of the bill gradually tapers until the rounded tip (Ridgway 1914). The iris is usually gray in males and white in females, though not always (Wetmore 1916, Kepler 1972, Merola-Zwartjes and Ligon 2000). Iris color may also be correlated with age, as all nestlings (N > 60) observed by Kepler (1972) had slate colored irises. Tarsi and toes are brown. The slender tarsus is longer than the middle toe with claw (Ridgway 1914). Toes are slender, with the middle and outer toes almost equal in length and the hallux about as long as the inner toe (Ridgway 1914). Claws are large, strongly curved, and acute (Ridgway 1914).


Recommended Citation

Fremgen, A. (2018). Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus), version 2.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.purtod1.02