Toco toucans are canopy frugivores whose diet is composed mainly of fruits, but they are considered to be an opportunistic feeder. They also occasionally feed on various types of insects and eggs of other birds, including those of endangered hyacinth macaws (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). Their broad geographical range of habitats is due in part to their foraging behavior and their diet of briefly-available fruits. The food sources include the fruits from trees such as genipapo (Genipa americana), agarrapolo (Ficus luschnathiana), ambay pumpwood (Cecropia pachystachya).
The large bills of toco toucans are the main foraging tool that allows the birds to reach into tree holes and to grasp fruits from surrounding branches. Toco toucans are unique in that they does not use their tongue in the process of swallowing food. Instead, they place a piece of fruit between the very end of their beak and lean their head back at an approximately 180 degree angle. This causes the food item to project directly into the pharynx.
Animal Foods: amphibians; reptiles; eggs; insects
Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Primary Diet: herbivore (Frugivore )
- Baussart, S. 2007. Feeding mechanism in fruit-eating bird toucan, Ramphastos toco. Comparative Biochemisty and Physiology, 146: S107.