Toucans are members of the Neotropical near passerine bird family Ramphastidae. The Ramphastidae are most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and over forty different species.
Toucans are arboreal and typically lay 2–21 white eggs in their nests. 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. When the eggs hatch, the young emerge completely naked, without any down. Toucans are resident breeders and do not migrate. Toucans are usually found in pairs or small flocks. They sometimes fence with their bills and wrestle, which scientists hypothesize they do to establish dominance hierarchies. In Africa and Asia, hornbills occupy the toucans' ecological niche, an example of convergent evolution.
Toucans are native to the Neotropics, from Southern Mexico, through Central America, into South America south to northern Argentina. They mostly live in the lowland tropics, but the mountain species from the genus Andigena reach temperate climates at high altitudes in the Andes and can be found up to the tree line.
For the most part the toucans are forest species, and restricted to primary forests. They will enter secondary forests to forage, but are limited to forests with large old trees that have holes large enough to breed in. Toucans are poor dispersers, particularly across water, and have not reached the West Indies. The only non-forest living toucan is the toco toucan, which is found in savannah with forest patches and open woodlands.