When people get asked what their favorite birds are, they usually mention regal eagles, magnificent hawks, and fluffy owls. But some would argue (i.e. me) that the true king of all birds is the colorful, big-beaked toucan.
These birds are a whole other level of cool and weird, once you start reading up on them. And then there’s no climbing back out of that rabbit hole.
Did you know that toucans look very interesting when they sleep? Do you know the purpose of a toucan’s large bright beak? Have you ever imagined what a toucan’s skeleton looks like? The answers are fascinating, so scroll down, enjoy, and get ready to tell all of your friends and co-workers just how freaking awesome toucans are (and why they’re so much cooler than eagles).
Toucans are amazing birds and here are some interesting, cool, and weird facts about them
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When you hear the word ‘toucan,’ it’s very likely that what pops into the forefront of your mind is one particular genus of toucans, the Ramphastos—aka, the typical toucans. With their orange bills and black-and-white plumage, it’s hard to mistake them for any other bird. ‘Typical?’ More like fabulous.
A toucan’s bill has a network of blood vessels and the bird expands them to cool down its body temperature—just like the elephants use their big ears
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Here’s how baby toucans look
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However, there are 4 other genera of toucan, including Andigena (mountain toucans), Selenidera (dichromatic toucanets), Pteroglossus (araçaris), and Aulacorhynchus (green toucanets). Among the birds that toucans are related to are woodpeckers; however, they’re only distant relatives, so don’t expect toucans to start hammering palm trees with their bills.
A toucan’s tongue looks strangely like a feather and can be as long as 6 inches (15 centimeters)
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Due to the sheer size of the beak, it would be sensible to think it weighs a fair amount, but actually, due to the little air holes the beak is actually quite light
Image credits: Charles J Sharp
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Toucans get their name from the extinct language of the native Tupi people of Brazil, via Portuguese. The Tupi used to call these birds ‘tukana,’ and their name hasn’t changed much over the centuries.
An X-rayed toucan’s beak
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Belize has the rainbow-billed toucan as its national bird
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Toucans mainly eat fruit. But they are what’s called “opportunistically omnivorous” which means that they eat animals like lizards, birds, and insects that are available in order to survive. Basically, imagine that you’re a vegan, but suddenly you’re flung to a faraway carnivore planet with no fruit, vegetables, plants, or nuts, and the only sources of food are animals. You’re told that you’ll be rescued in a month’s time. You’d eat what you’d have to eat to survive until then, wouldn’t you?