Colour Toucanery

A few days ago the ‘pile had a B&W toucan post.

Toucans are wonderfully shaped, and look great in black and white, but toucans and kin are fantastically colored critters. So let’s revisit, in color, that chestnut mandibled toucan I saw just after sunrise at the top of a certain mini-mountain in Southern Costa Rica.


Toucan, looking around the territory.

In case you’re interested, their Latin name is Ramphastos swainsoni.


You looking at me?


Big bird. Big eyes, big bill. Big colors. The toucan is a large enough and powerful enough bird that it has little fear of predators.

Toucans eat mostly fruit, but like a little protein from time to time. They’ve got that amazing bill. It’s a bill well suited for reaching up and down and around and even into cracks and crevices. Bugs, lizards, bird eggs and even bird babies in cracks and crevices are easily snapped up by that big bill.

But mostly, their diet is fruit. Ornithologists who have spent time watching and recording what toucans eat say the toucan diet is ninety per cent fruit.

The next four pictures show this bird as it fed in the tree above me.


Way up high, looking around.


What a nice red patch of buttfeathers!


How would you like a nose and mouth almost as long as your body? The bill weighs almost nothing, so reaching out like this does not throw the bird off-balance.


These mandibles are defter than a well-wielded pair of chopsticks. See the wee fruit held in the tip of the bill? Next step: toss back the bill and down the hatch!

Ramphastos swainsoni.


Mr. William John Swainson was one of those extraordinarily talented people from long ago that you may never have heard of. Among other things he was an ornithologist, a malacologist, a choncholigist and a superbly talented artist and illustrator. He lived a fascinating and cosmopolitan life. Place of death? Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

Digress yourself sometime, and read Mr. William John Swainson’s biography.

Check him out. For a start, go to:

2 responses to “Colour Toucanery

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