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There are about 40 different types of Toucans, ranging in size from seven inches to almost two feet long. They're distinguished by their colorful, large bills, which can be one color or a combination of colors. Toucans call South and Central America home, contributing to the rainforest's ecosystem.
Ramphastos: Big Toucans
The largest toucans are the Ramphastos genus and include more than a dozen types of toucans. The keel-billed toucan has a green beak tipped with red and orange sides; blue feet give him another splash of color. Most of the channel-billed toucan's bill is black, though it sports a pretty light blue color at its base. Despite its name, the red-breasted toucan has a bright yellow breast, sitting above the bright red feathers on his belly; his bill is pale green, which accounts for his alternative name, the green-billed toucan. The largest and most recognized toucan is the toco toucan. You may have seen this fellow on a cereal box, but if you haven't, look for a bird with a white throat and chest sporting a large yellow-orange bill. His bill is tipped in black and has a black base. Other big toucans include the choco toucan, citron-throated toucan, Ariel toucan, yellow-ridged toucan, black-mandibled toucan, chestnut-mandibled toucan, white-throated toucan, red-billed toucan and Cuvier's toucan.
Andigena: Mountain Toucans
As their name implies, these medium-sized toucans prefer higher altitudes -- specifically, humid highland forests in the South American Andes. They include the grey-breasted mountain toucan, the plate-billed mountain toucan, the black-billed mountain toucan and the hooded mountain toucan. Their upper bodies are olive-brown in color, topped by a black crown and tipped with a yellow rump. They all have bluish-grey feathers on their lower bodies, but their bills vary in color.
These colorful birds are also medium-sized toucans, enjoying life in Central and South America's warm rainforests. Unlike other toucans, these toucans roost in groups throughout the year, with up to six adults and fledged youngsters sharing a roost. There are 14 types of aracaris, all sporting colorful plumage and bills. The curl crested aracari is distinguished by his glossy curled feathers on his crown; the feathers look and feel like plastic. The fiery-billed aracari has a large bill with bright orange on top and black on the bottom. His yellow eyes stand out against his black head feathers and he sports a distinctive black spot on his chest against his yellow chest and above a red band on his abdomen. Other aracaris include the saffron toucanet, green aracari, lettered aracari, collared aracari, black-necked aracari, chestnut-eared aracari, many-banded aracari, ivory-billed aracari, red-necked aracari, brown-mandibled aracari, stripe-billed aracari and the pale-mandibled aracari.
Green Toucanets and Dichromatic Toucanets
Green toucanets live in humid South American forests as well as mountain woodlands. They're smaller toucans, ranging from 12 to 16 inches in length and have mostly green plumage and bills. Types of green toucanets include the crimson-rumped toucanet, chestnut-tipped toucanet, blue-banded toucanet, groove-billed toucanet, yellow-browed toucanet and emerald toucanet. The emerald toucanet has six sub-species of toucanets in its family. Dichromatic toucanets tend to stick to lowland rainforests in South America. These green-plumed guys are sedentary and forage alone or in pairs. Types of dichromatic toucanets include the Guianan toucanet, golden-collared toucanet, Langsdorff's or green-billed toucanet, tawny-tufted toucanet, spot-billed toucanet, yellow-eared toucanet and Gould's toucanet.
- Toucan Do It: About Toucans
- National Geographic: Toucan
- Space Radiation Lab at California Institute of Technology: Learning About Rainforests: Toucan
- Avian Web: Species: Toucans, Toucanets, Aracaris
- inaturalist.org: Toucans (Genus Ramphastos)
- inaturalist.org: Mountain Toucans (Genus Andigena)
- Avian Web: Green Toucanets
- Avian Web: Genus Selenidera
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images