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North Hills Monthly

Pair of Toco Toucans Joins the National Aviary in New Habitat

Jun 30, 2019 03:51PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

In June, the National Aviary introduced a pair of Toco Toucans to the public in a redesigned habitat, the TreeTops, presented by Peoples. Toco Toucans are the largest of the 40 or so species of toucans that inhabit parts of Central and South America. 

Toco Toucans, which live in South America, are thought to be the most widely recognized of the toucan species with their distinctive coloration and large beaks. Males are larger than females and have a longer bill. The birds hop along branches at least as often as they fly, and their bodies rotate 180 degrees, side-to-side as they hop. They eat by grabbing food with their long bills and then tossing it up and into their mouths. They are curious birds that enjoy exploring the habitat, stretching their necks and elongating their bodies to grab at nearby tree branches and fruit, their favorite food.

The 2-year-old male and 1-year-old female are a new breeding pair for the National Aviary. Visitors can already observe pair bonding behaviors, with the male bringing food to the female. The two may also engage in a behavior called bill tapping, a pair-bonding behavior in which the birds repeatedly will tap their beaks against one another’s or even interlock very briefly but repeatedly. 

Also found in the TreeTops is a pair of Edwards’s Pheasants, a species believed to be extinct in the wild. This species is also new to the National Aviary and has already produced their first chick! Hatched on April 25, 2019, the chick can currently be seen daily in the National Aviary’s Avian Care Center window.

 Native to Vietnam, this species was last observed in the wild in 2000. Thanks to the intervention of zoos and conservation organizations, populations living in human care are stable. The National Aviary participates in the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for this species, an international collaborative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums designed to maintain a stable and genetically diverse population of birds for future generations.

Funding for the TreeTops, presented by Peoples, has been generously provided by the Peterson Family Foundation.

To learn more about the National Aviary, visit https://www.aviary.org. Hours of operation are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily.