Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco)
Great place to see the toco toucan: Pantanal, Brazil
In the soothing greens of the wetlands in the Pantanal, if your calm is unsettled by a dazzling yellow-orange beak attached to a bird wearing black and white, you are looking at the toco toucan! It is also known as giant toucan, common toucan or just ‘toucan’.
Being the largest toucan, this avian beauty only looks heavy. But it is relatively light because it’s largely hollow inside. Its tongue is almost as long as the bill itself. Charles Darwin had suggested that its beak is a sexual ornament, but it is known to help the bird in peeling fruit, defending territory, visual warning, shoo away other birds from robbing its nest. But a significant function of the beak does is regulate heat distribution of the bird as it has the ability to modify blood flow.
This bird feeds mainly on fruit. It also consumes insects, small reptiles and birds and their nestlings and eggs, and frogs. The eggs are known to be incubated by both sexes.
The natives of Aztec civilization believed this winged beauty to be the messenger of God. Its long, colourful beak was supposedly created from the rainbow. It inspired the Aztec tribes to perform dances wearing its head to invite rains to their lands. In other cultures of central and southern America, it was said to be used to fly to the world of spirits. And for all these amazing reasons that makes it so closely related to us humans, the toco toucan is our Animal of the Week!
See this amazing bird on our ‘The Phantom and the Wetlands’ Wildlife Photography Expedition to the Pantanal!