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Citron-throated toucan

Ramphastos vitellinus

Description: The Citron-throated toucan has a bright yellow throat and breast (with a very narrow red breast band); wings, belly, upper parts and tail are black. The tail is accented with yellow and red feathers. Ear tufts are white. The deep, black bill is somewhat greenish in the center, with a ridge of pale yellow; base of bill is blue, with a yellow patch near the head. It is somewhat difficult to distinguish between the Citron-throated, Yellow- ridged, Ariel and Channel-billed toucans often considered conspecific, with the coloration of their wings, tails and thighs being similar, however, color of the remaining plumage, bill color and pattern, size and particularly their range are factors used to differentiate their classifications.

Size: They are usually about 19-22 inches (48-56 cm) long and weigh up to one pound (0.45 kg), with females being slightly smaller than males. The bill is about 5.5 inches (14 cm) long.

Behavior: These non-migratory birds are often seen alone or in pairs, but may also be part of small groups. They may join other species to feed (including other species of toucans). Two toes point forward and two toward the back, assisting with easy perching (zygodactyl). When sleeping, toucans can rest the huge beak on its back and fold its tail up across its back.

Diet: They are mainly arboreal fruit-eaters but will also eat insects, arthropods, small vertebrates, amphibians and eggs. A long feather-like tongue has bristles along each side which aids in catching, tasting and moving the food down their throat.

Communication: Because of their frog- like vocalizations, Citron-throated toucans are considered to be part of the “croaking” group of toucans. The are quite vocal and will warn the flock when danger is near, repeating the croak incessantly.

Reproduction: In addition to vocalizations and preening, objects are also used in their mating rituals. Both female and male throw fruit at each other, such as berries, catching it with their beaks. After selecting a tree cavity for a nest, two to four eggs are laid. Both parents share incubation duties approximately 16-18 days, at which time the altricial chicks hatch. After three or four weeks, the eyes begin to open and feathers begin to expand. They remain dependent for six to eight weeks while their beak develops and fledging occurs.

Habitat/range: Citron-throated toucans are mainly found in humid forests and woodland lowland areas of northern Colombia and north-western Venezuela.

Status: Listed on IUCN as Least Concern. CITES, Appendix II.