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Toco Tucan

Chris Packham presents the South American toco tucan.

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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.

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2 minutes

Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco)

Webpage image courtesy of Angelo Gandolfi / naturepl.com.

NPL Ref 01458606 © Angelo Gandolfi / naturepl.com.

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.

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