Spot Some Vibrant Toucans

Found solely in the northeast of Argentina in the beautiful Iguazu National Park, the toco toucan is a bird with an impressive bill. The most well-known and the largest of the toucan family, toco toucans boast jet-black plumage, a white throat and a blue or orange eye ring. But their most striking feature is their lightweight yellow beaks, which are the largest of all birds relative to body size, and measure over 20 centimetres (eight inches) in length.

The exact purpose of this hollow bill is still uncertain. Some scientists believe it is used as a visual warning to scare off predators, to attract a mate, or as an aid when peeling fruits. However, recent research suggests the beak is used to regulate body temperature through adjusting blood flow, and a toucan’s bill accounts for 30 to 60 per cent of the bird’s heat loss.

Toco-toucan
Toco toucans

Toco toucans are able to fly in rapid bursts but rely on gliding to get from tree to tree. They are vocal birds and produce deep, coarse croaking sounds, as well as bill-clacks and rattling calls. With these vocal displays and vibrant bills, they should be easy to distinguish from the luscious rainforests of the Iguazu Falls, a well-known tourist spot on the Argentina-Brazil border. Keen birdwatchers may also be delighted with sights of other exotic species, such as black-fronted piping guans, spot-billed toucanets and blond-crested woodpeckers.

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