Toucans - Exotic Birds with Colourful Bills

Toucans are birds that are famous for their brightly coloured bills. They are related to woodpeckers and live in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Some types of toucans live high up in the Andes Mountains. There are over forty types of toucans. The name toucan comes from tucano, which is what birds are called in Brazil.

A toucan can grow to a length of up to 60 cm. It has short, round wings and a long tail. It's most famous feature is its large bill. Although it seems too heavy for the bird to carry it is actually made up of light, hollow bone. It can be seen in yellow, green, white and red or a combination of colours. The colour of the bill helps you keep the toucans apart and it also helps scare away other birds. Most toucans have black feathers and bright colourful spots on the chest.

 

Toucans eat mainly fruit, but they also like insects, snakes and frogs. Sometimes they eat young songbirds or their eggs. A toucan grabs the food with the front part of its bill and moves its head back so that the food goes down the throat.

Toucans can be very loud birds in the forest. They make all kinds of noises and attract other toucans so they can get to their food.

Toucans often live together in natural holes in trees. Sometimes they use holes that woodpeckers built. A female toucan can lay two to four eggs that hatch 16 days later. The small toucans have their eyes closed when they are born. Their distinctive bill is wide and short bill. The parents care for them until they are ready to fly.

 

A toucan with a colourful bill

Toucan with a colourful bill - Jon Hanson

 

Related Topics

Words

  • actually = in fact, really
  • although = while
  • attract = make them come closer
  • bill = the hard pointed mouth of a bird
  • brightly = to shine strongly
  • care for =look after
  • chest = the front part of your body between your neck and your stomach
  • distinctive =typical, characteristic
  • feature = characteristic, mark
  • female = adjective of "woman"
  • grab = take very quickly
  • hatch = the egg breaks and a young bird comes out
  • hollow = empty inside
  • length = how long something is
  • mainly = most of the time
  • related to = connected to, belonging to the same family
  • scare = to make other birds afraid so that they fly away
  • songbird = a bird that can make musical sounds
  • spot = area, mark
  • tail = the part that sticks out of a bird's body
  • throat = the long narrow passage that starts at the back of your mouth and goes down to your stomach
  • wide = not narrow
  • woodpecker = a bird with a long pointed mouth that it uses to make holes in trees