Main content

Toco Tucan

Chris Packham presents the South American toco tucan.

Tweet of the Day is the voice of birds and our relationship with them, from around the world.

Chris Packham presents the South American toco tucan. Few of us are lucky enough to have seen or heard a Toco Toucan at home in its South American strongholds but its image will be familiar to drinkers of a certain age. Its pied plumage and sky-blue eye-rings are striking enough but it is the toco toucan's huge black-tipped orange bill that makes the bird instantly recognisable. Despite appearances this cumbersome-looking banana-shaped bill is really quite light. Under the colourful plates which cover the bill a matrix of horny fibres and air-pockets combines strength with lightness a formula which has caught the attention of light aircraft manufacturers . The bird's massive bills were prominent in advertisements for a well-known brand of Irish stout beer in the 1930s and 40s. In various poses, often with a pint pot perched precariously on its bill, toucan's, extolled the virtues of beer-drinking.

Available now

2 minutes

Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco)

Webpage image courtesy of Angelo Gandolfi /

NPL Ref 01458606 © Angelo Gandolfi /

Recording of toco toucan by Peter A Hosner / Ref: ML132572

This programme contains a wildtrack recording of the toco toucan kindly provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; recorded by Peter A Hosner on 22 Oct 2006, in Caleligua National Parl, Jujuy, Argentina.


Podcast: Planet Puffin

Podcast: Planet Puffin

Exploring all things puffin - the silly and the serious, the scientific and the cultural.

Try this new podcast

Try this new podcast

Five stories of birds and birdsong are told by the people inspired by them.