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The Keel-Billed Toucan, the National Bird of Belize

Posted by Jamie Cain on Oct 13, 2019 11:46:09 AM
Jamie Cain

The Keel-Billed Toucan is a brilliant-colored Latin American member of the Toucan family. It is the national bird of Belize and is known locally as the “Bill Bird”. It has a large, colorful and surprisingly masterful bill, and its plumage is mainly black with a bright kaleidoscope of colored feathers. It stands approximately 20 inches tall and its bill is approximately 8 inches in length, which is almost a third of the length of the Toucan’s body. It weighs anywhere from 13 – 18 oz.

Photo Courtesy of exploringnature.orgHow to Identify a Keel-Billed Toucan - Photo Courtesy of exploringnature.org

Feeding and Diet

The Keel-Billed Toucan’s diet mainly consists of a large variety of fruits and berries, but they will also eat lizards, snakes, small eggs, and insects. The Toucan uses its large bill to sort of “dissect” the fruit, which makes it easier to swallow. Once the fruit is more manageable, it flings its head back and swallows it whole. Since the Toucan’s bill is lightweight, hollow, and dexterous, it can consume a bigger array of fruit. 

Photo Courtesy of Brian GratwickeSpotted Outside! - Photo Courtesy of Brian Gratwicke

Habitat and Sleeping Arrangements

These striking beauties live in Central and South America. They roost in small cavities of trees in the canopy layer of the rainforests and jungles. They are very social birds and live in pairs or in small flocks of 6 or more. When it’s time to sleep, the group will sleep with their beaks and tails tucked underneath their bodies, to create more room for each other and conserve space. 

Photo Courtesy of weebly.comRoosting in a Tree - Photo Courtesy of weebly.com


Keel-Billed Toucans are monogamous birds and mate from March through June. Once a year, the female will lay up to 4 white eggs, 1 egg per day. Both the male and female take part in the incubation of the small clutch of eggs, which lasts 16 to 20 days. The newborn Toucans are naked and blind at birth and aren’t born with large bills. Their parents take turns caring for and feeding their offspring, and the chicks stay in their nest for approximately eight to nine weeks. Once their bills fully develop, they are ready to fledge from the nest.

Toucan-Belize-ZooA Beautiful Keel-Billed Toucan in the Belize City Zoo

Toucan Watching in Belize

If you’re planning to do some bird watching while in Belize, be sure to bring your binoculars because Belize is a prime destination for Toucan watching. Toucans are fun to observe, as they will often "duel" with each other using their bills. They also will play a game of catch by throwing fruit into each other's mouths--one throws a piece of fruit in the air and the other catches it! These beautiful birds only fly short distances since they aren’t the best flyers, and typically hop from tree to tree. They call to each other with a frog-like croaking sound that can be heard from up to a half mile away. Click here to hear them call.


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Topics: Things to Do in Belize, Ambergris Caye, Belize, General Info About Belize, Central America, Tourism in Belize

Jamie Cain

Written by Jamie Cain

Jamie Cain is a native Texan. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, and after graduating college, she began a career in modeling. “This was an incredible experience, as I had the opportunity to work and live in many amazing countries and experience all the different cultures.” After, she started a career in real estate in Dallas. Fast forward to 2017, she had the wonderful opportunity to join ECI Development as a Property Advisor for Nicaragua and Belize. Presently, Jamie lives on the East Coast with her husband and two white cats. She enjoys yoga, blogging, photography, and cooking.