Collared Aracari – Beautiful Creation

(Crooked) Collared Aracari Sign at Houston Zoo by Lee

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV)

When we visited the Houston Zoo this last spring, we saw a sign for the Collared Aracari. We were able to photograph two other Aracaris, but this one was “off exhibit.” Not sure why, but I was very disappointed, because it is such a neat creation from the Lord.

While checking through some more of Ray Barlow’s photos, guess what I found? Some really great photos of a Collared Aracari Ray had taken, and “without bars” like we get at a zoo. So I trust you will enjoy some more photos from Raymond Barlow.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

An aracari or araçari is any of the medium-sized toucans that, together with the saffron toucanet, make up the genus Pteroglossus. They belong to the Ramphastidae – Toucan Family. This Collared Aracari is not even one of the prettiest, but it is still very becoming.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

They are brightly plumaged and have enormous, contrastingly patterned bills. These birds are residents in forests and woodlands in the Neotropics.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

All the species of Aracari are basically fruit-eating, but will take insects and other small prey.

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

They are arboreal and nest in tree holes laying 2–4 white eggs. The Collared Aracari breeds from southern Mexico to Panama; also Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica.

And now for the best one of Ray’s photos for the Collared Aracari, at least to me:

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) ©Raymond Barlow

That beak is not painted by none other than the Creative Hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16 NKJV)

Click on photos for larger view

Birds of the World – Ramphastidae – Toucan Family

Raymond Barlow’s Site

Ray’s Flickr Site

Collared Aracari – Wikipedia

Wordless Birds


Birds of the World ~ Toucan Family (Ramphastidae)

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) ©WikiC

Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco) ©WikiC

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

While working on the Ramphastidae Family yesterday, I decided to share some of the beauty the Lord created in this group of birds. These are the Toucans, Toucanets, and Aracaris. They are just so appealing to see and wonder how the Lord comes up with so many designs and colors in His Creation. This family definitely show such variety.

This morning while reading my latest Acts & Facts, there was an article about Diversity by Dr. James J. S. Johnson, who did our guest article this week,( Bird Brains, Amazing Evidence of God’s Genius). Both are very interesting articles worth reading. But I want to quote Dr. Johnson about variety.

Two words summarize the answer: life and variety. Even in this after-Eden world, cursed and groaning as it is under the weight of sin and death, we still see a prolific and diversified creation.

Why did God design earth’s biodiversity the way that He did?

God loves life. God is the essence and ultimate origin of all forms and levels of life.1

God loves variety. God’s nature is plural, yet one, and He is the Creator of all biological diversity anywhere and everywhere on earth.2

This family catches your eye and causes a second look. Toco Toucans are familiar to many, and some of the others. (Even Toucan Sam is the cartoon mascot for Froot Loops breakfast cereal).   We had the privilege to meet “Gracie” a retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan at the National Aviary. (National Aviary – Hospital, Breeding, and Kitchen Areas) Needless to say, that is the closest I have been to a Toucan.

Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan petted by Lee

The Ramphastidae Family has 5 or 6 genera, depending on sources, with Toucanets in the Aulacorhynchus and Selenidera, Mountain Toucans in the Andigena genus, Aracaris are Pteroglossus with the Saffron Toucanet added by some, and the Typical Toucans belong to the Ramphastos genus. The “Toucan” name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese. They have large colorful and brightly marked bills.

Toucans range in size from the Lettered Aracari (Pteroglossus inscriptus), at 130 g (4.6 oz) and 29 cm (11.5 inches), to the Toco Toucan(Ramphastos toco), at 1.5 lb (680 g) and 29 inches (63 cm). Their bodies are short (of comparable size to a crow’s) and compact. The tail is rounded and varies in length, from half the length to the whole length of the body. The neck is short and thick. The wings are small, as they are forest-dwelling birds who only need to travel short distances.

The legs of the toucan are strong and rather short. Their toes are arranged in pairs with the first and fourth toes turned backward. The majority of toucans do not show any sexual dimorphism in their coloration.  However, the bills of female toucans are usually shorter, deeper and sometimes straighter, giving more of a “blocky” impression compared to male bills. The feathers in the genus containing the largest toucans are generally black, with touches of white, yellow, and scarlet. The underparts of the araçaris (smaller toucans) are yellow, crossed by one or more black or red bands. The toucanets have mostly green plumage with blue markings.

Toucans are native to Southern Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean region. They generally live in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They make their nests in tree hollows and holes excavated by other animals such as woodpeckers—the toucan bill has very limited use as an excavation tool.

They mainly eat fruit, but will eat insects and small lizards if they become available. However, in their range, toucans are the dominant frugivores, and as such play an extremely important ecological role as vectors for seed dispersal of fruiting trees.

Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) by Reinier Munguia

Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) by Reinier Munguia


The green toucanets are birds from the genus Aulacorhynchus in the toucan family. They are native to Mexico, and Central and South America. All are found in humid forests and woodlands in highlands, but a few also occur in adjacent lowlands. They are relatively small toucans, 12–17 in (30–44 centimetres) long, with colorful, mainly green, plumage. They are typically seen in pairs or small groups, and sometimes follow mixed species flocks.

Wagler’s Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus wagleri)
Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)
Blue-throated Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus caeruleogularis)
White-throated Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus albivitta)
Black-throated Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus atrogularis)
Groove-billed Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus sulcatus)
Chestnut-tipped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus derbianus)
Tepui Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus whitelianus)
Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus)
Yellow-browed Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus huallagae)
Blue-banded Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus coeruleicinctis)

Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis) ©WikiC

Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis) ©WikiC

Selenidera is a bird genus containing six species of dichromatic toucanets in the toucan family Ramphastidae. They are found in lowland rainforest (below 1,500 metres or 4,900 feet) in tropical South America with one species in Central America.

All the species have green upperparts, red undertail-coverts and a patch of bare blue or blue-green skin around the eye. Unlike most other toucans, the sexes are different in color. The males all have a black crown, nape, throat and breast and an orange/yellow auricular streak. The females of most species have the black sections in the male replaced by rich brown and a reduced/absent auricular streak,

Saffron Toucanet (Pteroglossus bailloni)
Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis)
Guianan Toucanet (Selenidera piperivora)
Golden-collared Toucanet (Selenidera reinwardtii)
Tawny-tufted Toucanet (Selenidera nattereri)
Gould’s Toucanet (Selenidera gouldii)
Spot-billed Toucanet (Selenidera maculirostris)

Many-banded Aracari (Pteroglossus pluricinctus) by Kent Nickel

Many-banded Aracari (Pteroglossus pluricinctus) by Kent Nickel


An aracari or araçari is any of the medium-sized toucans that, together with the Saffron Toucanet, make up the genus Pteroglossus. They are brightly plumaged and have enormous, contrastingly patterned bills. These birds are residents in forests and woodlands in the Neotropics.

Green Aracari (Pteroglossus viridis)
Lettered Aracari (Pteroglossus inscriptus)
Red-necked Aracari (Pteroglossus bitorquatus)
Ivory-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus azara)
Brown-mandibled Aracari (Pteroglossus mariae)
Black-necked Aracari (Pteroglossus aracari)
Chestnut-eared Aracari (Pteroglossus castanotis)
Many-banded Aracari (Pteroglossus pluricinctus)
Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)
Stripe-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus sanguineus)
Pale-mandibled Aracari (Pteroglossus erythropygius)
Fiery-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii)
Curl-crested Aracari (Pteroglossus beauharnaesii)

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris) by Michael Woodruff

Mountain Toucans 

Andigena, the mountain toucans, is a genus of birds in the Ramphastidae family. They are found in humid highland forests in the Andes of South America, ranging from Bolivia to Venezuela. These medium-sized toucans all have olive-brown upperparts, a black crown, yellow rump, blue-grey underparts and a red vent.

Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca)
Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris)
Hooded Mountain Toucan (Andigena cucullata)
Black-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris)

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) ©WikiC

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) ©WikiC


Ramphastos is a genus of toucans, tropical and subtropical near passerine birds from Mexico, and Central and South America, which are brightly marked and have enormous, often colourful, bills.

This genus comprises the largest toucans, ranging from 17 to 24 in (42 to 61 centimetres) in length. All have black wings, tails and thighs, but the color of the remaining plumage depends on the exact species involved. All the species are basically fruit-eating, but will take insects and other small prey. They are arboreal and nest in tree holes laying 2–4 white eggs. They are essentially resident birds, but may take part in minor, local movements (e.g., to lower altitudes in the winter).

Green-billed Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus)
Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus)
Citron-throated Toucan (Ramphastos citreolaemus)
Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis)
Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)
Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco)
White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus)
Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)

Enjoy the variety of these beautiful birds that have been placed here for their benefit and our enjoyment by their Creator. Clicking the links will reveal some that are at various websites besides the ones here.

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalms 90:17 NKJV)

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. (Psalms 96:6 ESV)

(Wikipedia and other internet sources)

See Also:

Toucan – Ramphastidae Family

Toucans (Ramphastidae) – IBC

Toucan – Ramphastidae – Wikipedia

  • Genus Aulacorhynchus—green toucanets (6–15 species)
  • Genus Selenidera—dichromatic toucanets (6 species)
  • Genus Andigena—mountain toucans (4 species)
  • Genus Pteroglossus—araçaris (14 species, incl. Saffron Toucanet)
  • Genus Ramphastos—Typical toucans (about 8 species)

Wordless Birds


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Birds Vol 1 #1 – The Yellow Throated or (Black-mandibled) Toucan

Black-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) for the Birds Illustrated article

Yellow Throated Toucan for the Birds Illustrated article

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. January, 1897 No. 1



(Ramphastos ambiguus) or Black-mandibled) Toucan


I am a Toucan and I live in a very warm country.

See my handsome black coat and my yellow vest.

My toes are like a parrot’s, two in front and two behind.

They help me to hold to the limbs.

Look at my large beak. It looks heavy but it is not, as it is filled with air cells. These make it very light. Do you like my blue eyes?

My nest is very hard to find. If I tell you where it is, you will not take the eggs, will you? It is in a hollow limb of a very high tree.

I am very fond of fruit, and for this reason the people on the plantations do not like me very well.

I can fly very fast, but I cannot get along so well on the ground. I keep my feet far apart and hop.

I like to sit in the top of the tallest trees. Then I am not afraid. Nothing can reach me there but a rifle ball.

I do not like the owl, he is so ugly. When we find an owl we get in a circle around him and snap our great beaks, and jerk our tails up and down and scream. He is very much afraid of us.

The people where I live like our yellow breasts. They wear them on their heads, and also put them on the ends of their bows.

We sometimes sit together in a tree and snap our beaks and shout. This is why we have been called “Preacher Birds.”

We can scream so loud that we may be heard a mile away. Our song is “Tucano! Tucano!”

I think it is a pretty song, but the people do not like it very much.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by Ian

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by Ian



HE Toucans are a numerous race of South American birds, at once recognizable by the prodigious size of their beaks and by the richness of their plumage. “These birds are very common,” says Prince Von Wied, “in all parts of the extensive forests of the Brazils and are killed for the table in large numbers during the cool seasons. Their eggs are deposited in the hollow limbs and holes of the colossal trees, so common in the tropical forests, but their nests are very difficult to find. The egg is said to be white. They are very fond of fruit, oranges, guavas and plantains, and when these fruits are ripe make sad havoc among the neighboring plantations. In return for these depredations the planter eats their flesh, which is very delicate.”

The flight of these birds is easy and graceful, sweeping with facility over the loftiest trees of their native forests, their strangely developed bills being no encumbrance to them, replete as they are with a tissue of air-filled cells rendering them very light and even buoyant.

On the ground they get along with a rather awkward hopping movement, their legs being kept widely apart. In ascending a tree they do not climb but mount from one branch to another with a series of jumps, ascending to the tops of the very loftiest trees, safe from every missile except a rifle ball. They have a habit of sitting on the branches in flocks, lifting their bills, clattering them together, and shouting hoarsely all the while, from which custom the natives call them Preacher-birds. Sometimes the whole party, including the sentinel, set up a simultaneous yell so deafeningly loud that it can be heard a mile. They are very loquacious birds and are often discovered through their perpetual chattering. Their cry resembles the word “Tucano,” which has given origin to the peculiar name.

When settling itself to sleep, the Toucan packs itself up in a very systematic manner, supporting its huge beak by resting it on its back, and tucking it completely among the feathers, while it doubles its tail across its back just as if it moved on hinges. So completely is the large bill hidden among the feathers, that hardly a trace of it is visible in spite of its great size and bright color, so that the bird when sleeping looks like a great ball of loose feathers.

Sir R. Owen concludes that the large beak is of service in masticating food compensating for the absence of any grinding structures in the intestinal tract.

Says a naturalist: “We turned into a gloomy forest and for some time saw nothing but a huge brown moth, which looked almost like a bat on the wing. Suddenly we heard high upon the trees a short shrieking sort of noise ending in a hiss, and our guide became excited and said, “Toucan!” The birds were very wary and made off. They are much in quest and often shot at. At last we caught sight of a pair, but they were at the top of such a high tree that they were out of range. Presently, when I had about lost hope, I heard loud calls, and three birds came and settled in a low bush in the middle of the path.”


Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

Lee’s Addition:

Today the Yellow Throated Toucan is also referred to as the Black-mandibled Toucan, at least by the IOC list of World Birds and the Internet Bird Collection. Actually, there are several Toucans that have a yellow throat and hope this is the one referred to in the 1897 article. The way they keep changing the names and splitting the species, the Chestnut-mandibled is also in that species.

What a fantastic bird and such an amazing creation from the Lord. Such a beautiful beak and yet so light.

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:3 NKJV)

All of these Toucans have Yellow Throats:
Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) Lee petting at National Aviary
Rainbow-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) IBC
Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis) IBC
Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus) IBC
Black-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) IBC

Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The Ramphastidae family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species. The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese.

Toucans range in size from the Lettered Aracari (Pteroglossus inscriptus), at 130 g (4.6 oz) and 29 cm (11.5 inches), to the Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), at 680 g (1.5 lb) and 63 cm (29 inches). Their bodies are short (of comparable size to a crow’s) and compact. The tail is rounded and varies in length, from half the length to the whole length of the body. The neck is short and thick. The wings are small, as they are forest-dwelling birds who only need to travel short distances, and are often of about the same span as the bill-tip-to-tail-tip measurements of the bird.

The colourful and large bill, which in some large species measures more than half the length of the body, is the hallmark of toucans. Despite its size, the toucan is very light, being composed of bone struts filled with spongy tissue of keratin between them. The bill has forward-facing serrations resembling teeth, which historically led naturalists to believe that toucans captured fish and were primarily carnivorous; today it is known that they eat mostly fruit. Researchers have discovered that the large bill of the toucan is a highly efficient thermoregulation system, though its size may still be advantageous in other ways. It does aid in their feeding behavior (as they sit in one spot and reach for all fruit in range, thereby reducing energy expenditure), and it has also been theorized that the bill may intimidate smaller birds, so that the toucan may plunder nests undisturbed. Also, the beak allows the bird to reach deep into tree-holes to access food unavailable to other birds, and also to ransack suspended nests built by smaller birds. However, as there is no sexual dimorphism in coloration it is unlikely to be a sexual signal.
A toucan’s tongue is long (up to 14–15 cm, or 6 inches), narrow, grey, and singularly frayed on each side, adding to its sensitivity as an organ of taste.

A structural complex probably unique to toucans involves the modification of several tail vertebrae. The rear three vertebrae are fused and attached to the spine by a ball and socket joint. Because of this, toucans may snap their tail forwards until it touches the head. This is the posture in which they sleep, often appearing simply as a ball of feathers, with the tip of the tail sticking out over the head.

Toucans are primarily frugivorous (fruit eating), but are opportunistically omnivorous and will take prey such as insects and small lizards. Captive toucans have been reported to actively hunt insects in their cages, and it is possible to keep toucans on an insect-only diet. They also plunder nests of smaller birds, taking eggs and nestlings. This probably provides a crucial addition of protein to their diet. However, in their range, toucans are the dominant frugivores, and as such play an extremely important ecological role as vectors for seed dispersal of fruiting trees. Often when eating small fruits, toucans will throw their heads back and allow the fruit to roll into their throats before swallowing.


Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 January 1897 No 1 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the second article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Red-Rumped Tanager

Previous Article – The Red Bird Of Paradise

Wordless Toucan


Ian’s Bird Of The Week – Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by Ian

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Chestnut-mandibled Toucan ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 12/09/10

Guinness Toucan Poster from Ian

Guinness Toucan Poster from Ian

I think everybody, birders and non-birders, likes Toucans. They’re one of the iconic, almost cartoonish, animals that were introduced to as young children and I remember Toucans (and Gnus) featuring in posters for Guinness stout in Ireland in the 1950s. Their unbelievably large and colourful bills are so outlandish that it is a delightful shock to come across them in the flesh, particularly in the wild.

The Villa Lapas hotel where I stayed in the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica had a rainforest canopy trail in its grounds and I checked it out one thundery and gloomy afternoon. The rain held off for most of the trek but, for the most part, the birds didn’t like the weather any more than I did and the light and the dense foliage made it hard to see much less photograph anything. However, repeated raucous calls led me to a pair of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans perched high in an unusually open tree. They proved to be very shy, fell silent as soon as I appeared and flew off into the forest giving me time to take only a few photos. With a length to 61cm/24in, the Chestnut-mandibled is the largest Toucan in Costa Rica. Its range includes most of Central America and Northern South America from Honduras to Ecuador.

Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) by Ian

Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) by Ian

Toucans use their large bills to collect fruit, but will also feed on nestlings. The structure of the bill is a honeycomb, so it quite light and not particularly strong. Its function has attracted a lot of speculation from reaching fruit, signalling and defence and the latest theory is that it is used as heat exchanger for cooling. The colours vary widely from species to species, supporting its use for species identification but they don’t vary either between the sexes or seasonally. There are about a dozen species of large toucan (genus Ramphastos) and the toucan family (Ramphastidae) includes smaller ones such as Mountain-Toucans (Andigena), Toucanets (Selenidera) and Araçaris (Peteroglossus). All of these are restricted to Central and South America but the related Barbets occur also in Africa and Eurasia. If you are interested in examples of these, have a look at:

Recent milestone on the website are totals of 5,600 photos and 1,300 species. Additions to the website since last week include more photos of American waders such as:

American Avocet

Black-necked Stilt


and Least Sandpiper

Best wishes,


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,

454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818

Phone: +61-7 4751 3115

Preferred Email:


Lee’s Addition:

Wow! What a milestone. Way to go Ian. Hope he doesn’t mind, but I inserted one of his photos of a toucanet. Check out Ian’s link above of the Ramphastidae Family.

Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

Gracie the retired Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsonii)

We were able to meet and pet “Gracie” at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA this summer. She is also a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. Her beak as you can see is showing her age. She is retired now and is well cared for. Like Ian said, “I think everybody, birders and non-birders, likes Toucans.” I definitely think they are very neat.

Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. (Daniel 4:12 ESV)

The Toucans, as Ian said, are found in the Ramphastidae Family. At present, there are 47 species in the family. They are part of the Piciformes Order which contains the Woodpeckers and their allies.

(Editor’s note – not advocating or advertising Guinnes) *