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Channel Bill

(Ramphastos vitellinus)

The Channel Bill Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus) is one of the smaller species of large black toucans, weighing in at approximately 350 grams, with a beak length of four to five inches. With a black beak, it appears at first glance to be less colorful than some of the other species. However, its bright, two toned chest of orange and white mixed with the red breast make it an eye catching species.

The Channel Bill has been kept and bred by a number of zoos and private aviculturists. It is not quite as common today as it was five years ago and breeding efforts have not been conducted with the same degree of effort as with other species. It is a very intelligent species and easily maintained. It has the same pet qualities as the others.

Aviculture: Outdoor flights should be at least 8′ x 12′ x 6′ for the larger toucans. Toucans may be a bit pugnacious with other species in their family and with smaller birds, and therefore should not be housed with different birds in small enclosures or cages.

Toucans are frugivorous birds, whose primary diet is fruit. In the wild they consume fruits from as many as 100 species of plants and trees. They also consume a variety of insects for protein, especially during their nesting cycle.

They MUST be fed FRESH fruit every day! The fruit diet should also be supplemented with a low iron protein source (such as Mazuri Low Iron Softbill diet by Purina Mills).

Toucans are not as difficult to breed as often thought and must be housed alone in pairs, preferably following the size enclosures mentioned above under housing. While they will breed in boxes, with a concave bottom, they are far more likely to breed if they are provided with a “natural” nest, constructed from a palm tree log. Logs allow these birds to continually dig their nest chamber deeper, which helps them cement the pair bond.

All Ramphastids lay pure white, elliptical shaped eggs, usually 3-4 per clutch. Incubation for all species lasts 16 days, and young fledge the nest at 46-50 days for larger toucans.

First captive breeding: World – August 17, 1986; John Robertshaw/USA June 29, 1997; Rod Barth.