Yellow-throated toucan

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Yellow-throated toucan
Black-mandibled Toucan 2012.jpg
R. a. swainsonii in Costa Rica
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Ramphastidae
Genus: Ramphastos
R. ambiguus
Binomial name
Ramphastos ambiguus
Swainson, 1823

See text

The yellow-throated toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus) is a large toucan in the family Ramphastidae found in Central and northern South America.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The yellow-throated toucan was at one time considered to be closely related to the Choco toucan but it is only distantly related per genetics. The ranges of the nominate subspecies and the chestnut-mandibled toucan do not overlap in the wild and are found to differ by 1.35% in mitochondrial DNA, leading some authourities to continue to classify the chestnut-mandibled toucan as a separate species.[2] Alternate names for the yellow-throated toucan include the black-mandibled toucan and yellow-breasted toucan.


Three subspecies are recognized:[3]

  • Chestnut-mandibled toucan (R. a. swainsonii) - (Gould, 1833): Originally described as a separate species. Found in southeastern Honduras to western Ecuador
  • R. a. ambiguus - Swainson, 1823: Found in southwestern Colombia to south-central Peru
  • R. a. abbreviatus - Cabanis, 1862: Originally described as a separate species. Found in northeastern Colombia and northern Venezuela


Ramphastos ambiguus at the Bronx Zoo

This species has a total length of 47–61 cm (19–24 in) and weighs from 584 to 746 g (1.287 to 1.645 lb).[4] Among all toucans and living members of the order Piciformes, only the toco toucan and the white-throated toucan average larger than the similarly-sized black-mandibled and chestnut-mandibled races. Among standard measurements, the short wing chord is 20.4 to 24.8 cm (8.0 to 9.8 in), the huge bill is 12.9 to 20 cm (5.1 to 7.9 in), the tail is 14.8 to 17.5 cm (5.8 to 6.9 in), and the tarsus is 4.7 to 5.9 cm (1.9 to 2.3 in).[5]

Its plumage is mainly black. Upper breast and throat are bright yellow, with a thin red border on the throat, a creamy rump and a scarlet anal area. The bill is bicolor and massive, a little shorter in the female. It is lemon-yellowish on the upper side and blackish on the rest of the maxilla and on the mandible, often brown close to the base. The skin of the face around the eyes is pale green or yellow-green.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The yellow-throated toucan ranges along the eastern slope of the Andes from Peru, north through Ecuador and Colombia, to Venezuela as far as the coastal ranges.

This species is adapted to a wide variety of habitats, from plains to tropical and subtropical forest. It lives at altitudes of 100–2400 m. in humid montane forest, with a preference for the canopy and edge.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The call of the yellow-throated toucan is a yelping, far-carrying cry described as “Díos te dé” (Spanish for "God give you..."). This species feeds mainly on fruits, but occasionally on lizards, rodents, smaller birds and insects.

The breeding season lasts from March to June. The nests are usually located in a cavity in rotting wood at 10–25 meters above the ground. The females lay 2-4 white eggs incubating for about two weeks.[6]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Ramphastos ambiguus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ "Ramphastos swainsonii - Avibase". Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  3. ^ "IOC World Bird List 6.4". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/
  4. ^ "Nashville Zoo". Archived from the original on 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  5. ^ Toucans, Barbets and Honeyguides (Bird Families of the World) by Lester Short & Jennifer Horne. Oxford University Press (2001), ISBN 978-0198546665.
  6. ^ a b

External links[edit]