Toco Toucan Ramphastos toco

  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Ramphastidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Carolyn W. Sedgwick



Toco Toucans are most commonly seen flying across rivers or perching in treetops as they feed and often jump or hop from branch to branch. They typically feed in the canopy individually or in small groups but also forage in the understory or on the ground, especially for fallen fruits. Toco Toucans make good use of their bill for many tasks including feeding, defense, courtship, and preening and are capable of hanging mostly upside down and using their bill to reach into difficult areas to obtain fruit (Short and Horne 2001).

These large toucans alternate between flapping with heavy wingbeats and gliding and their flight is slightly undulating in character. During the day, many species of toucan become inactive and rest periodically in the treetops.

Allopreening between paired mates is common in toucans, as is preening by other members of a group. Preening by others tends to cease once pairs begin to lay eggs (Short and Horne 2001, 2002).


Little information is available about territoriality in wild Toco Toucans; captive birds direct their head and bill at the source of a threat while making a rattling noise (Short and Horne 2001, 2002).

Sexual Behavior

During the breeding season, pairs often tap their bills together or allopreen. In addition, males sometimes cock their tails and fan out the red feathers of their undertail coverts (Short and Horne 2002). The large, brilliantly colored bill of toucans might have a function in courtship displays (Haffer 1974).

Social and interspecific behavior

Toco Toucans are considered less sociable than other toucans (Sick 1993), but sometimes feed in small groups, flying in single file.


Little information on Toco Toucans. Toucans and aracaris, in general, probably are predated on by monkeys and by large raptors, such as the Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus) (Sick 1993).

Recommended Citation

Sedgwick, C. W. (2010). Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.