The Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis) is a large(although among the smallest Ramphastos toucans), predominantly black bird with a striking yellow and black beak, a yellow bib, white uppertail coverts, red undertail coverts and green ocular skin.
It is considered a “Choco” endemic, found in the humid Pacific lowlands and lower foothills of southwest Colombia and northwest Ecuador. It generally inhabits lowland forest and also forest on lower Andean slopes, as well as adjacent pastures with fruiting trees or plantations.
It overlaps almost completely with the nearly identical Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos swainsoni), and is best separated by its slightly smaller size, its black, as opposed to “chestnut” lower mandible, and most-importantly voice. The Choco Toucan gives a series of croaking “grrrack…grrrack….grrrack….grrrack” calls, placing it firmly in the so-called “croaking group” of larger toucans, rather than the “yelping group”.
They are often found foraging in fruiting trees in the forest canopy in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals, eating mainly fruits, but also insects and small vertebrates. They have been recorded following raiding army ants, presumably for the animal prey they disturb.
In aviculture, their requirements of spacious cages and a high-fruit diet, and their sensitivity to hemochromatosis (iron-storage disease), make them difficult to maintain for novice keepers.
This beautiful toucan and many other colourful neotropical birds can be seen on a Nature Travel Birding trip to the wonderful South American countries of Colombia, Peru or Ecuador. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on www.naturetravelbirding.com for more information.