Friday, 21 January 2011

Chestnut-mandibled toucan

Ramphastos swainsonii

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:

Order Piciformes
Family Ramphastidae

These birds are found in Central and South America, from eastern Honduras south through Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, western Colombia, and Ecuador.

In this species males tend to be larger than females. The males are 56 cm long and have a wingspan of 50-54 cm, weighing 680-750 g. The females are 52 cm long and have a wingspan of 46-49 cm, weighing 620-680 g.

Chestnut-mandibled toucans are found in a variety of moist, forested habitats. They are most common in primary lowland evergreen forests, but they also occur in gallery forest, forest patches, older second-growth woodland, and even large parks and gardens with a suitable tree canopy. They are typically found from sea level up to an altitude of 1000 m.

They are largely frugivorous, eating from a wide variety of fruiting trees and play a vital role in seed dispersal. Preferred food sources include Virola, Casearia, Cecropia, Protium, Hampea, and Trophis spp. They also sometimes take lizards, large insects, and the eggs and young of other birds.

The breeding season of the chestnut-mandibled toucan varies depending on latitude, taking place sometime in December-July. They nest in hollow tree cavities where decay has caused the wood to rot, or sometimes in abandoned woodpecker nests, typically 10-30 m above the ground. The female lays 2-4 white eggs which are incubated by both parents for 14-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents until fledging, which takes place 6 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species as a large breeding range and although the population is yet to be quantified, it is described as fairly common. With no evidence for any declines or substantial threats, the species is not considered threatened at present.

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