Puerto Rican Tody Todus mexicanus

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


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Puerto Rican Tody
eBird range map for Puerto Rican Tody

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

Puerto Rican Tody is endemic to and widespread throughout Puerto Rico (Bond 1985). Offshore islands were searched intensively for todies but none have been discovered there (Kepler 1972).

Distribution outside the Americas

Recorded only from Puerto Rico.


Puerto Rican Tody is widespread and found in most forested areas throughout the island, including damp forests, humid mountain slopes, montane rain forests, coffee plantations, second growth pastures, riparian woodlands, dense growth in mountains and hills, dry limestone forests, wet and mesic limestone forests, and semi-arid coastal regions (Kepler 1972, Bond 1985, Raffaele 1989). The tody is less common near peaks of the highest mountains and rare in some lowlands, although it is common in lowland arid areas in the southern portion of the island that have dense thickets, such as the Guánica Forest (Raffaele 1989). Kepler (1972) did not find any in non-native montane pine forests, or beaches bordered by sea-grape. Highest tody densities occur in tall, low elevation forests (Kepler 1972). The tody frequently is caught in mist-nets placed near streams or in various sized gaps in the forest (Waide 1996).

Historical changes

Struthers (1923) recorded todies in Puerto Rico as common in the mountains and foothills, but only saw two in the mangrove forests. They are currently considered common. 

Fossil history

Fossils indicate that Todidae may have been widespread on the North American continent, ranging to at least Wyoming in central North America and into the West Indies (Raffaele 1989). The continental distribution of the genus Todus dates to 35 million years ago in the mid-Oligocene. The oldest known Todus fossil is Paleotodus emryi (Olson 1976). Coraciiform birds were widespread in the early Tertiary when climates worldwide were warm and tropical, and now nearly all coraciiformes are restricted to tropical distributions (Merola-Zwartjes and Ligon 2000). Present-day Todus species may have evolved from Paleotodus, which dispersed from the Yucatan Peninsula to Cuba during the Pleistocene and evolved into the Cuban (Todus multicolor) and Jamaican (Todus todus) species (Overton and Rhoads 2004). Kepler (1972) proposed hurricanes may have inadvertently dispersed individuals from Jamaica to Puerto Rico, but genetic evidence does not support that theory (Overton and Rhoads 2004; see Systematics).

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