Chestnut-mandibled Toucan

Ramphastos swainosonii

Click to view a larger image. Click to view a larger image. bird bird

Museum specimen featured in the Wild exhibition
Source: Museum Victoria

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Image: Tom Brakefield
Source: Corbis

Type: bird

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
Image: Tom Brakefield
Source: Corbis

Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Chestnut-mandibled Toucans are common and widespread in several national parks across their large range. There is no current concern about their conservation status.



Chestnut-mandibled Toucans are omnivores.

They eat fruit, insects, and small vertebrates such as reptiles, amphibians and birds.


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a sparrow and a cat.

580–750 g
52-56 cm

Amazing Chestnut-mandibled Toucans

Chestnut-mandibled Toucans are large, striking birds with large bills. Their plumage is glossy black with bold patches of yellow, red and white. Their common name comes from the bold colours of their bills – the lower bill (or mandible) is dark reddish-brown, while the upper bill is yellow and chestnut.

These toucans live high in the canopies of humid Central and South American rainforests. They are common across their range and are often seen flying through clearings and at forest edges. They are quite conspicuous since they live in noisy groups of 3–12 birds that make several distinctive calls. At sunset, flocks call in chorus to other birds in the distance and toss their heads and beaks.

The bills of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans look bulky and heavy but, thanks to their hollow, honeycomb structure, are actually very light.  Fruit is their major food but they also raid the nests of other birds to eat eggs and nestlings. They hold large food items with their feet and tear pieces off with their beaks. In Costa Rica this species follows smaller Keel-Billed Toucans to new food sources, then chases them away.

Breeding takes place in the dry season. Females lay 2–4 eggs in tree hollows. The young toucans have tough feet for shuffling around in the nest, and fledge in 40–50 days.

Did You Know?

Chestnut-mandibled Toucans

  • are the largest toucans in Central America
  • steal food from another toucan species
  • can fold their tails over their back to fit into small tree hollows


Chestnut-mandibled Toucan distribution map

Chestnut-mandibled Toucans are found in Central America and north-west South America, from Honduras to Ecuador. They live in humid lowland forests.


Other animals from the Neotropic

Gorgeted WoodstarJaguarCotton-top TamarinNine-banded Armadillo

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