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Ramphastos toco, (Source)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Piciformes
Familia: Ramphastidae
Subfamilia: Ramphastinae
Genus: Ramphastos
Species: Ramphastos toco
Subspecies: R. t. albogularis - R. t. toco


Ramphastos toco Statius Müller, 1776


Des Ritters Carl von Linné vollständiges Natursystem. Nach der 12. lateinischen Ausgabe und nach Anleitung des holländischen Houttuynischen Werks mit einer ausführlichen Erklärung. Supplement p.82

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Riesentukan
English: Toco Toucan
Español: Tucán Toco
日本語: オニオオハシ
Português: Tucano-toco, Tucano-açu
中文: 托哥巨嘴鸟, 巨嘴鸟

The Thick-billed Lark (The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) is the largest and arguably best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America. It is a common attraction in zoos.


The Toco Toucan has a striking plumage with a mainly black body, a white throat, chest and uppertail-coverts, and red undertail-coverts. What appears to be a blue iris is actually thin blue skin around the eye. This blue skin is surrounded by another ring of bare, orange skin. The most noticeable feature, however, is its huge bill, which is yellow-orange, tending to deeper reddish-orange on its lower sections and culmen, and with a black base and large spot on the tip. It looks heavy, but as in other toucans it is relatively light because the inside largely is hollow. The tongue is nearly as long as the bill and very flat. With a total length of 55–65 cm (22–26 in), incl. a bill that measures almost 20 cm (8 in), and a weight of 500–860 g (17.5-30 oz), it is the largest species of toucan and the largest representative of the order Piciformes.[1] The average Toco Toucan is 700-780 grams (1.5-1.7 lbs).[2][3] Males are larger than females, but otherwise both are alike. Juveniles are duller and shorter-billed than adults. Its voice consists of a deep, coarse croaking, often repeated every few seconds. It also has a rattling call and will bill-clack.


It occurs in northern and eastern Bolivia, extreme south-eastern Peru, northern Argentina, eastern and central Paraguay, eastern and southern Brazil (excluding southern Rio Grande do Sul, the dry regions dominated by Caatinga vegetation and coastal regions between Ceará and Rio de Janeiro). Other disjunct populations occur along the lower Amazon River (Ilha de Marajó west approximately to the Madeira River), far northern Brazil in Roraima, and coastal regions of the Guianas. It only penetrates the Amazon in relatively open areas (e.g. along river corridors). It is resident, but local movements may occur.

Habitat and status

It is, unlike the other members of the genus Ramphastos, essentially a non-forest species. It can be found in a wide range of semi-open habitats such as woodland, savanna and other open habitats with scattered trees, Cerrado, plantations, forest-edge, and even wooded gardens. It is mainly a species of lowlands, but occurs up to 1750 m (5750 ft) near the Andes in Bolivia. Because it prefers open habitats it is likely to benefit from the widespread deforestation in tropical South America. It has a large range and except in the outer regions of its range, it typically is fairly common. It is therefore considered to be of Least Concern by BirdLife International. It is easily seen in the Pantanal.


The Toco Toucan eats fruit (e.g. figs and Passiflora edulis) using its bill to pluck them from trees, but also insects, frogs, small reptiles and nestlings, and eggs of birds. It also has been known to capture and eat small adult birds in captivity. The long bill is useful for reaching things that otherwise would be out-of-reach. It is also used to skin fruit and scare off predators.[4] It is typically seen in pairs or small groups. In flight it alternates between a burst of rapid flaps with the relatively short, rounded wings, and gliding. They are poor flyers, and usually hop from tree to tree. Nesting is seasonal, but timing differs between regions. The nest is typically placed high in a tree and consists of a cavity, at least part of which is excavated by the parent birds themselves. It has also been recorded nesting in holes in earth-banks and terrestrial termite-nests. Their reproduction cycle is annual. The female usually lays two to four eggs a few days after mating. The eggs are incubated by both sexes and hatch after 17–18 days. These birds are very protective of themselves and of their babies.

Bill function

The bill is largest beak relative to body size of all birds providing 30 to 50% of its body surface area.[5] It was called by Buffon a “grossly monstrous” appendage.[6] Diverse functions have been suggested. Charles Darwin suggested it was a sexual ornament: “toucans may owe the enormous size of their beaks to sexual selection, for the sake of displaying the diversified and vivid stripes of colour with which these organs are ornamented".[7] Further suggestions have included aid in peeling fruit, intimidating other birds when robbing their nests, social selection related to defense of territory, and as a visual warning.[5][8]

Research has shown that one function is as a surface area for heat exchange.[5] The bill has the ability to modify blood flow and so regulate heat distribution in the bird, allowing it to use its bill as a thermal radiator.[5] In terms of surface area used for this function, the bill relative to the bird's size is amongst the largest of any animal and has a network of superficial blood vessels supporting the thin horny sheath on the bill made of keratin called the rhamphotheca.

In its capacity to remove body heat the bill is comparable to that of elephant ears.[5] The ability to radiate heat depends upon air speed: if this is low only 25% of the adult bird's resting heat production to as much as four times this heart production. In comparison the bill of a duck and the ears of elephant can shed only 9 to 91% of resting heat production.[5] The bill normally is responsible for 30 to 60% of heat loss. The practice of Toco Toucan's of placing their bills under their wings may serve to insulate the bill and reduce heat loss during sleep.[5] It has been observed that "complexities of the vasculature and controlling mechanisms needed to adjust the blood flow to the bill may not be completely developed until adulthood."[5]


The Toco Toucan is sometimes kept in captivity, but has a high fruit diet and is sensitive to haemochromatosis (an iron storage disease).[9] Also, pet Toco Toucans must not be permitted to eat mouse (or rat) meat, due to a risk of bacterial infection.[10] There is an ongoing population management plan that should help to revert the decreasing captive population of the Toco Toucan for Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member institutions. This will be the second management plan that is occurring since 2001.[11]


1. ^ Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco)
2. ^
3. ^
4. ^ - Ramphastos toco
5. ^ a b c d e f g h Tattersall GJ.Andrade DV. Abe AS. (2009). Heat Exchange from the Toucan Bill Reveals a Controllable Vascular Thermal Radiator. Science 325, 468-470 doi:10.1126/science.1175553
6. ^ Buffon GLL. (1780). Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulièire avec la Description du Cabinet du Roi. L'Impreimerie Royale.
7. ^ Darwin C. (1871). The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Murray.
8. ^ Jones JS. (1985). Evolution: The point of a toucan's bill. Nature 315, 182-183 doi:10.1038/315182b0
9. ^ Toco Toucan Birds
10. ^
11. ^ Toco Toucan Population Management plan. Riverbanks Zoo. Accessed 2008-06-28

* BirdLife International (2004). Ramphastos toco. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of Least Concern.
* Gilbert, A. (2002). Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco). pp. 270–271 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds (2002). Handbook of Birds of the World. Vol. 7. Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-37-7
* Restall, R., Rodner, C. & Lentino, M. (2006). Birds of Northern South America - An Identification Guide. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-7242-0
* Short, L. & Horne, J. (2001). Toucans, Barbets and Honeyguides. Oxford University Press, London. ISBN 0198546661
* Sick, H. (1993). Birds of Brazil - A Natural History. Princeton University Press, West Sussex. ISBN 0691085692
) is a species of lark in the Alaudidae family. It is monotypic within the genus Rhamphocoris. It is found in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland and hot deserts.

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