Toucan (aka Bill Bird) in Belize
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN - The Keel-Billed Toucan is the national bird for Belize. It is a large South American bird, that belongs to the family of toucans and can be found from southern Mexico to northern Columbia. Keel-billed toucan can survive 15 to 20 years in the wild.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN - Beak
The beak (or bill) is about 4.7 to 5.9 inches long (nearly 1/3 of body length). Even though it is very large, the actual bill is not heavy. It is made of light-weight protein called keratin and its internal structure is spongy. The large size of this bill doesn't affect stability of the bird. It probably plays an important role during the mating season and serves as a weapon against predators.
This beak is amazing when it comes to structural engineering. The horny outer shell is reinforced with a network of inner cellular fibers, providing strength without debilitating weight; it feels like laminated basla wood, but the serrated edges are more mindful of a stainless steel paring knife. The coloration is beyond belief: apple green, with an elongated orange triangle laid out along the lip of the upper beak and a streak of powder blue whispering across the lower beak. The beak is attached to the toucan's head by a black, patent leather strap.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN - Body
Keel-billed toucan can reach 17 to 22 inches in height and 4.7 to 8.8 pounds of weight. Keel-billed toucan has a black body, yellow face & throat with green skin around eyes. The tip of its tail is red and the feet are blue in color. Keel-billed toucan's have beautifully colored bills, which are a combination of green, yellow, orange and red color, hence the nickname rainbow-billed toucan. The Keel-Billed Toucan is not a very good flyer. They move by hopping (from branch to branch). Keel-Billed Toucans make loud, frog-like calls (that can be heard 0.5 mile away) to communicate with one another. Their natural enemies are birds of prey and humans.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN - Diet
The Keep-Billed Toucan is an omnivore, it feeds mostly on fruit and berries. From time to time, its diet does include eggs, insects, lizards and frogs. With its beak, it rips off a chunk from the fleshly portion (of a berry); it then juggles the morsel with the tip of its bill (until it is positioned just so) and then, with a toss of its head, flips the food into the air and catches it. It drinks water in a similar fashion, dipping its bill below the surface, then lifting it high (making like a gutter), allowing the water to drain toward the throat.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN - Habitat
The Keel-Billed Toucan prefers larger trees, in open areas. They live in trees holes made by other birds (i.e. woodpeckers), which they then enlarge to fit their needs. Keel-Bill Toucan's inhabit tropical & subtropical rainforest (from the lowlands to the altiutde of 6.200 feet)
Typically 5 to 6 birds will nest together. They all sleep with their bills tucked under the body to make room for other birds in the group. Keel-Billed Toucan's are very social, playfrul birds. They travel through the jungle in groups of 6 to 8 birds, throw fruit into the mouth of other birds and use their beaks to fight with their playmates.
Major threats for the survival of keel-billed toucan are habitat destruction and uncontrolled hunting (for their meat & the beak). Despite these factors, Keel-Billed Toucan's are still widespread and numerous in the wild.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCANS - Mating & Reproduction
Keel-Billed Toucans are monogamous birds, which mate from March to June. The remale lays 1 to 4 eggs in the cavities of trees. Both male and female take part in the incubation of eggs that lasts 16 to 20 days. The nesting stage is prolonged, lasting up to nine week.
Hatchlings are naked and blind at birth. Both parents provide food for their chicks until they become ready to leave the nest at the age of 8 to 9 weeks. Keel-Billed Toucans reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 to 4 years.
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