The Other Toucans

The northern emerald toucanet, also called the Mexican emerald toucanet, is a small species of toucan found in southern Mexico and Central America. (A similar species, Aulacorhynchus albivitta or the southern emerald toucanet, lives in the Andes region of South America.) There are eight known subspecies of the northern emerald toucanet found between Mexico and Panama; while many have variations in coloring, all are characterized by bright green feathers over the body, white or blue patches at the throat, and proportionally large, brightly colored bills. Emerald toucanets tend to have black-colored bills, with bright yellow, white, or red markings on the top of the upper mandible. Including their bills, these birds tend to be around one foot (30 cm) in length and weigh between 5 and 6 oz (141 to 170 g), with the females of the species averaging as slightly smaller than the males.

Northern emerald toucanets are most commonly found in mountain regions of Mexico and Costa Rica; however, they have over time spread into more lowland tropical areas, including those of the Belizean rainforest. Their diet consist mainly of fruit, but is supplemented by insects and other invertebrates, small snakes or lizards, and occasionally the eggs of other bird species. They are preyed on by several larger, predatory birds, including hawks, falcons, and eagles, as well as mammals such as small cats and weasels and reptiles such as snakes. They travel in small flocks of up to ten individuals, nest primarily in hollows in trees, and lay between two and four eggs, which are incubated by both the male and female members of a breeding pair for between two and three weeks. Emerald toucanet chicks are able to leave the nest around six weeks after hatching.

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