Keel-billed Toucan

(Ramphastos sulfuratus)


Keel-billed Toucan IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The keel-billed toucan is a fairly large toucan species, males measuring 47 cm in length, and weighing 500 g. Females are somewhat smaller (44 cm) and lighter (380 g), otherwise sexes look alike.

The plumage is mostly black suffused with maroon on hindneck and upper back, and with olive on lower back and belly. The uper tail coverts are white, and the lower are red. The lower face and sides and front of neck are bright yellow, bordered posteriorely with red.

The bill is mostly yellowish green with a reddish tip, orange on side of upper manible, greenish blue along side and ridge of lower mandible, dusky bars along the cutting edge, and a black band along the base of the bill. The iris is olive green, the bare skin on the face is greenish-yellow, and the legs and feet bright blue.

The keel-billed toucan uses mainly the upper levels of the forest where it may be seen in loose troops of up to six birds.

Reproductive season is from January to May. The female lays pure white, elliptical shaped eggs, usually 3-4 per clutch. Incubation lasts 16 days, and young fledge the nest at 46-50 days.


Toucans are frugivorous birds, consume fruit from as many as 100 species of trees and other plants. They also consume a variety of insects for protein, especially during their nesting cycle.

Did you know?
that their beak's serrated edges help the toucans hold fruit or other food at the tip, which then is thrown into their throat with an upward toss of the head? The long beak also helps to pluck fruits that are on branches too thin to hold their weight, as they reach far out from their perch on thicker branches.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Ramphastos sulfuratus
Name (English) Keel-billed Toucan
Name (French) Toucan à carène
Name (German) Fischertukan
Name (Spanish) Tucán de pico multicolor
Local names Costa Rica: Curré negro
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Adalberto Hernandez Vega



Range Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama Northern South America: Colombia, Venezuela
Habitat Subtropical and tropical moist lowland forest, including degraded former forest
Wild population No global estimates available but it is believed to be large as the species is described as 'frequent' in at least parts of its range.
Zoo population 138 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Keel-billed Toucan


How this animal should be transported

Toucans must be shipped singly. For air transport, Container Note 13 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Donar Reiskoffer

Why do zoos keep this animal

This is a large, conspicuous and attractive bird, which is a good ambassador species for the conservation of neotropical forests. Toucans have an interesting anatomy, e.g. the large and very light bill, or two toes directed forward and two backward like in a parrot, and interesting behaviour, and are thus also of educational interest. Zoos may keep toucans also for animal welfare reasons as they may have to take care of confiscated birds, or former pet birds.