Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-Billed Toucan

Sulfur-breasted toucan, Rainbow-billed toucan

Ramphastos sulfuratus
Population size
50-500 thou
Life Span
15-20 yrs
64 km/h
380-500 g
42-55 cm

Keel-billed toucans are colorful Latin American member of the toucan family. These birds are most known for their large and colorful bill that averages around 12-15 cm (4.7-5.9 in); it is mainly green with a red tip and orange sides. The plumage of Keel-billed toucans is mainly black with a yellow neck and chest. They have blue feet and red feathers at the tip of their tail.


Keel-billed toucans are found from Southern Mexico to Venezuela and Colombia. They live in tropical, subtropical, and lowland rainforests.

Keel-Billed Toucan habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Keel-billed toucans are very social birds, rarely seen alone. They fly in small flocks of approximately 6 to 12 individuals through jungles. Their flight is slow and undulating, consisting of rapid wing beats, then a glide with the bird's beak extending forward and dipping downward as though pulling the rest of the bird. Their feet are drawn up forward in flight. The flight distances are typically short. They live together in groups, often sharing cramped living quarters of holes in trees and there is a family structure within the group. Keel-billed toucans are diurnal spending most of their time in tree canopies and at night they roost in holes in trees, often with several other toucans. These are very playful birds that often "duel" with each other using their bills, and throw fruit into each other's mouths. They also 'play ball', one throwing a fruit in the air and a second seizing it.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Keel-billed toucans are omnivorous birds that feed on fruits, seeds, insects, invertebrates, lizards, and snakes. They will also eat small birds, their eggs, and nestlings.

Mating Habits

15-20 days
8-9 weeks
1-4 eggs

It is believed that Keel-billed toucans form serially monogamous pairs that stay together at least throughout the year. The female lays 1 to 4 white eggs in a natural or already-made tree cavity. Both parents share in the caring of the eggs and both take turns incubating. The eggs hatch approximately 15-20 days after being laid. After hatching, the male and female again take turns feeding the chicks. The chicks hatch altricial; they have no feathers and have their eyes closed for approximately 3 weeks. The young stay in their nest for approximately 8 to 9 weeks while their bills develop fully and they are ready to fledge from the nest.


Population threats

Keel-billed toucans are widespread and are not endangered at present. However, these birds are still threatened by hunting for their meat and beaks, and the populations of this species are on a decreasing trend.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Keel-billed toucan population size is around 50,000-499,999 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Keel-billed toucan is the national bird of Belize.
  • The bill of toucans seems large and cumbersome but it is in fact a spongy, hollow bone covered in keratin, a very light and hard protein.
  • Keel-billed toucans have zygodactyl feet (or feet with toes facing in different directions) - two toes face forward and two face back. Because toucans spend a large portion of time in the trees, this helps them to stay on the branches of the trees and jump from one branch to another.
  • The bill of the Keel-billed toucan is surprisingly dexterous and allows the bird to utilize a large variety of fruit that might not otherwise be reached. When eating the fruit, the toucan uses its bill to dissect the fruit and then tosses its head back to swallow the fruit whole.
  • When Keel-billed toucans roost in tree holes with several other toucans this can be very cramped, so the birds tuck their tails and beaks under their bodies to conserve space while sleeping. Adding to the lack of space, the bottoms of the holes where toucans sleep are often covered with pits from the fruit the birds have eaten.


1. Keel-Billed Toucan on Wikipedia -
2. Keel-Billed Toucan on The IUCN Red List site -

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