Toucans are some of the most recognized birds in all the world with their large colorful bills.
But have you seen a baby toucan or know much about these secretive birds?
I have gathered lots of information and facts about baby toucans from zoos, research papers and toucan pet owners so you can find out all about toucan babies.
Have you ever wondered if toucans start life with such big beaks? If they do then how would it fit in the egg!
Well, read on to find out and learn more about baby toucans.
Where Do Toucans Live?
There are over 40 species of toucan and they live in forests in Mexico, Central and South America. They prefer old forests that would tend to have more tree cavities to raise the baby toucans in.
Toco Toucans however live in more open woodlands or savannahs.
Toucans are not great fliers so they tend to hop long branches and prefer to glide when possible.
Although secretive and not much is known about the life of many species of toucan they are thankfully listed as of least concern on the IUCN redlist.
Toucan Breeding Habits
Toucans are monogamous birds, meaning they only have one mate. When the breeding season starts mating pairs of toucans will feed each other fruit.
The breeding season for toucans is March to October and they may raise two broods during this time.
Toucans often live in family groups as small flocks and may remain together for a long time. During the breeding season pairs of birds may leave the group before rejoining after the baby toucans have fledged.
Toucan nests are hard to find because they are often high up in tree cavities in forests. Toucans can be shy birds, especially around the nest and so try not to draw attention to the location but when alarmed they will leave the nest and fly to a perch and make loud calls.
Toucans will use natural cavities in trees or old nests made by woodpeckers in trees as their beaks are not strong enough to dig out a cavity of their own.
Toucans will clean the nest out and have been observed taking green leaves in and then removing them again. They will then disgorge large fruit seeds and pits through their mouths, like owl pellets, onto the cavity floor. These large seeds and pits then line the bottom of the nest and toucan eggs are laid directly on these.
Toucans will often use the same nest each year as nest cavities are in short supply and to ensure they keep those nests a breeding pair of toucans will often arrive 6 weeks before breeding time to take up residence in the nest.
The adult toucans will keep the nest clean by removing any droppings and flying away with them in their beaks.
Toucans will usually lay between 1 -4 eggs that are around 1.5 inches long (4 cm).
Toucan eggs are white and may have pitted groves on the sides, especially at the large end.
Toucans lay one egg a day and incubation may not start until the last egg is laid so the chicks are all born on the same day, but some toucans will start incubating immediately.
Both male and female toucans incubate the eggs for about 14 – 20 days.
The baby toucan uses its beak to break through the egg’s membrane during hatching and immediately start calling. Once hatched the adult toucans remove the old eggshells.
Baby Toucan Appearance
Baby toucans are blind, very weak and helpless when they are born and they can only raise their heads for a few seconds. They are also pink and without feathers when they are born.
They then turn a more yellow color until their feathers start to grow after about 2 weeks. It will take several more weeks for the feathers to fully grow. Baby toucans do not start to open their eyes for at least 20 days and it can take several days for their eyes to open fully.
Toucan babies do not have a large beak when they hatch from the egg but it is wide and heavy compared to other baby birds.
Unusually, baby toucans have a special heel pad that is thought to protect their feet from the rough floor of the nest.
Baby toucans grow very rapidly in the first few months of their lives – they weigh only 30 grams at hatching but can reach 1 kilogram by the time they are two-three months.
Toucan Baby Fledgling
Baby toucans start to flap their wings after about 18 days even though their eyes are not yet open. They will have all their feathers by the time they are 2 months old. They will not fledge the nest until they are about 6 weeks old.
The toucan babies will remain in their mother’s care for about four months until they are large enough to fly away on their own as fully-grown toucans.
In this time the young birds will learn all about how to find food, build nests and forage through trees just like adult toucans do, making them true experts on how to survive in the wild once they fledge the nest.
Baby toucans learn about life from their parents, elders and other members of the toucan community. For example, a new toucan chick will follow its mother as she forages throughout the day, learning fundamental skills such as how to eat different types of fruit, where to find water and how to identify danger.
Toucans will not mature until they are about 18 months old.
What Do Baby Toucans Eat?
Baby toucans are usually fed fruit by their parents in the wild. These are often berries that are carried to the nest in their beaks. The baby toucan’s parents will also regurgitate more fruit for the babies.
Toucans eat a lot of fruit and have a short digestive tract. This means that all that high water content fruit and short transition time can lead to explosive poops that can also be colored due to the fruit such as blue if they have eaten blueberries.
Sometimes the baby toucans will be fed on lizards, snakes, or insects such as grasshoppers. The adult toucan will kill the prey by hitting it against a tree.
Captive Toucan Diet
Toucan babies that are hand-reared can be fed using hand-rearing bird formula such as Kaytee hand-rearing formula or Mazzori softbill hand-feeding formula.
Baby toucans will need to be fed at least every hour during the day and every 2 hours during the night initially. This will reduce to every 2 hours during the day only.
Toucans do not have a crop to store food and so they must be fed very regularly and as they get older they will need constant access to cut up fruit.
According to the VCA animal hospitals toucans are at risk from high iron storage disease (Hemochromatosis) and so captive or pet toucans need to be fed pellets that are low iron.
Toucan baby conclusion
Toucan babies do not look like they will grow into the striking adult bird with amazing long beaks but if you look closely you can see their beaks are larger than most baby birds.
I love watching these fascinating birds and find it amazing how long it takes them to change from bald and blind to the bird we know and recognize.
- Life History of the keel-billed Toucan
- Toucans, barbets, and honeyguides.
- Hand rearing birds – Laurie J. Gage DVM,, Rebecca S. Duerr DVM,