NFSS | National Finch & Softbill Society 501(3)(C)
Toggle Dark/Light/Auto mode Toggle Dark/Light/Auto mode Toggle Dark/Light/Auto mode Back to homepage

Red Bill

(Ramphastos tucanus)

The Red Bill toucan is an active, curious bird that makes a great addition to the toucan breeder’s collection. Red Bill Toucans (Ramphastos tucanus) are the third largest of the black toucans, and nearly identical in size to the Swainson’s toucan. It is a common species of Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Surinam, and is not to be confused with the Couvier’s toucan (R. tucanus couvieri) a subspecies.

The Red Bill was not seen in the U.S. until 1983, when it was first imported. The first Red Bill was bred in captivity in 1984 by Jerry Jennings, but has bred only moderately well since, and the numbers are limited.

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.

CITES status: Appendix II.