MorphologyRead full entry
Ramphastos sulfuratus is a large (about 20 inches or 52 cm long) colorful bird, and has a bill that can grow to be up to one third the size of its body (Enchantedlearning, 1999). The large banana-shaped bill is the most distinguishing feature of R. sulferatus, and is surprisingly lightweight for its size (Kricher, 1989). The light weight of the keratin-composed bill is due to its hollow, bone-reinforced construction (Kricher, 1989; Enchantedlearning, 1999; Thurman, 1999). The bill is edged with tooth-like ridges. Housed within the bill is a long, narrow, feather-like tongue. The body of R. sulfuratus is black, and it has a bright yellow bib and cheeks. Its rump is white, and the undertail coverts are a brilliant red. The area directly around the eyes is bare, showing the pale blue skin underneath. Its bill, which takes up the entire front of its head, is green, with a bright orange blaze on the side, red on the tip of the upper mandible, and blue on the tip of the lower mandible. Males and females share the same coloration and large bill, the only difference being that the male is slightly larger than the female. Ramphastos sulfuratus has blue legs and its toes are arranged in the zygodactyl pattern (with two toes forward and two toes back)(Kricher, 1989; Greer, 1993; Beletsky, 1998). Its tail is long and square-shaped, and its wings are wide and short to enable flight through trees (Beletsky, 1998).
Ramphastos sulfuratus is one of the larger species of toucans, weighing about 400 grams. There are several species of toucan, distinguished mainly by beak size, body size and body coloring. The behavioral characteristics of all toucan species are largely similar (Emerald Forest).
Average mass: 400 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry