This is a bird that has been a long time coming. It’s Toucan time. Keel-billed Toucan time to be specific (Rampastos Sulfuratus). And I have to be specific because there are 43 different species of Toucan. Will some other Toucans get a week later? I mean, who can say?
They belong to the order Piciformes, which on the family tree of birds makes Woodpeckers their closest relatives. Toucans come in a wide range of colours and sizes, but our Toucan looks a little something like this:
Let’s not mince words, they are one bizarre bird. For starters it has blue feet, but really it’s that crazy beak that does it. Why do they call them keel-billed? I mean, who can say?
They’re beaks make up about one third of their total length, which means they’re nearly more beak than bird. And if you look closely you’ll see their beaks are actually serrated.
How about that. For a while people to believe Toucans were carnivorous and used their beaks for fishing. Turns out they exclusively eat fruit. For its size the beak is also quite light, as it’s made out of keratin (the stuff hair is made of).
What I like about Toucans, though, is how they worked their way into popular culture … mainly in advertising campaigns. We all remember Toucan Sam, right.
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But I think my favourite depictions of Toucans were those drawn by naturalist John Gould in the 1850s.
They were so good he even got a Toucan named after him, Gould’s Toucanet. His collection of every Toucan species is what brought the birds to popular attention. So I’ll leave you with his one of the Keel-billed.