Fun Toucan Barbet Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Nov 17, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Some interesting toucan barbet facts.

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus), of the family Semnornithidae, is a native barbet of western Ecuador and western Colombia. The genus Semnornis is a small bird genus.

All the barbets are members of the toucan Ramphastidae family and Semnornithidae subfamily. This genus was frequently included in paraphyletic barbet but, they are now a separate family of Semnornithidae.

This genus consists of two known species, the prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii), a native bird of western Panama and Costa Rica; and toucan barbet (S. ramphastinu). There are five extant families under Ramphastidae.

William Jardine, a Scottish naturalist, first described toucan barbet, placing it in Tetragonops. Later, these two species were placed in the Semnornis genus. The specific name 'ramphastinu' is of Latin origin that means 'toucan-like' and is based on Linnaeus' Ramphastos genus.

The toucan barbet is a colorful species with black, gray, red, and yellow colors. The young toucan barbets are prey to plate-billed mountain toucans.

The two subspecies found are S. r. caucae in Columbia and the nominate race in western Ecuador. Nils Gyldenstople, a Swedish explorer and ornithologist, first described S. r. caucae in 1941.

If you enjoy reading these toucan barbet facts, then do read some interesting facts about the night heron and the toco toucan.

Toucan Barbet Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a toucan barbet?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) is a medium-sized barbet species of phylum Chordata and order Perciformes. The birds of this family are highly social in small groups. This bird species roosts in these groups.

They establish territories for raising the young ones. They are very particular about choosing a distinct tree for nesting.

The prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) of the same phylum and order have similar characters. Neither of these two species is migratory. The toucan barbet nest is a hole carved out of dead trees or branches in humid forests.

What class of animal does a toucan barbet belong to?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) belongs to class Aves and the family Semnornithidae of animals.

How many toucan barbets are there in the world?

The exact number of toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) birds is not known. The population distribution of the two species declined due to logging operations, habitat loss, mining, cattle grazing, and deforestation. The population is currently declining.

Where does a toucan barbet live?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) occupies a range of habitat across South America through western Colombia and western Ecuador. It also occupies the western Andes in the Andean slopes around northwest Ecuador through southwest Colombia. The related species, the prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) is found in western Panama and Costa Rica.

What is a toucan barbet's habitat?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) habitat regions include sub-canopy and canopy of a forest, humid montane forests, montane cloud forest, forest edges, and, primary and secondary forests. They are found at around 4,600-7,900  ft (1,403-2,408 m) altitude in the Andean slopes around Ecuador and Colombia.

Who do toucan barbets live with?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) forms small groups or territories for raising its young. These barbets act as helpers in these territories for raising the young chicks. They are found in pairs during the breeding season.

How long does a toucan barbet live?

The exact lifespan of neither the toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) nor the prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) is known. However, this barbet species lifespan is around 10 years.

How do they reproduce?

The toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) has several helpers in the community that help the pair throughout the breeding season, unlike prong-billed barbets who defend their territories. These birds select a distinct tree and carve out a hole with their strong bills to build nests and also roosts in the same tree.

They dig out these hole nests in large dead trees like snags or sometimes a dead branch. The courtship feeding takes place around the nest. During the breeding season, the group reduces to around three birds.

Usually, the immature offspring from the previous breeding season stays behind to help with incubation, raising the young chicks, and defending the territory. The reproducibility rate relatively rises with the presence of these young helpers.

The breeding season starts in February and extends till October. The female lays two to three eggs per season.

The incubation takes place for 15 days and both sexes incubate without the helpers present near the nests. However, the male more involved in incubation and looking after the chicks than females. The young toucan barbets or chicks leave the nest after 45 days.

These chicks resemble the breeding pairs but a paler with a black iris. For almost two months the young ones keep their plumage.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) is Near Threatened and its population declined due to habitat loss, large logging operations, trapping for the cage-bird trade, and cattle grazing. It is likely to become endangered in the near future. The two species, prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) and toucan barbet also face threat from habitat fragmentation, mining, and deforestation.

Toucan Barbet Fun Facts

What do toucan barbets look like?

The toucan barbets of the family Semnornithidae are robust medium-sized barbets. The strong bills have a light green mandible and yellow maxilla which have dark ends. The bill is pronged but not as noticeable as the prong-billed barbet.

They have a thin cervical collar and black crown. They have a bright red iris and a white stripe behind the eyes. The feathers are long and occipital.

They have a golden-brown nape that turns yellow towards the rump. They have a grayish-blue side of the nape, throat, and upper breasts. They have a yellowish-green lower belly and bright red middle belly and lower breast.

They have gray wings and tails. The red color on the breast of the subspecies is less extensive than the nominate breed. Otherwise, they are similar to S. ramphastinus.

The female's plumage is slightly duller than the male's. The females have no tuft on the nape plumage. The young ones are duller and around four months they develop prongs.

The toucan barbet is affected by feather mites.

How cute are they?

Semnornis ramphastinus (toucan barbet) are colorful medium-sized birds and are considered cute.

How do they communicate?

The toucan barbets communicate through vocalization and body language. Their call is a loud shriek that can travel a long distance. During the breeding season, a duet is sung by the breeding pair either in sync or simultaneously.

The call frequency changes as the seasons change. The call frequency decreases in April.

These barbets also produce clicking sounds. When the community is threatened by a predator – which would likely steal their nest sites – they produce a rattling call with knocking and pecking of their bills on the wood to drive away the predator. They also display mobbing behavior in groups.

How big is a toucan barbet?

The toucan barbets are  7.5-8.3 in (19-21 cm) long, whereas, the related species, prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) is around 7 in (18 cm).

How fast can a toucan barbet fly?

The flight speed of toucan barbets is not known.

How much does a toucan barbet weigh?

The weight of these barbets is 0.17-0.25 lb (80–115 g), whereas, the prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) weighs about 0.13-0.15 lb (60-70 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female toucan barbets.

What would you call a baby toucan barbet?

There is no specific name given to these baby barbet species.

What do they eat?

These birds have a frugivorous diet and feed on fruits and other types of food. The diet of these bird species also consists of insects like small reptiles, termites, nectar, flower petals, and tree sap.

It is has been recorded that these species of barbets have a more frugivore diet compared to other barbet species. It has also been recorded that these species depend on 60 species of fruit that are a part of 20 families.

Important fruits were of Cecropia trees and Clusia. The diet of these birds varies with seasons and these birds feed on insects in April. The young ones eat more insects than the adults.

They forage for food anywhere between ground level to 98 ft (30 m) high. Whiles foraging in small groups, sometimes they mix with flocks of tanagers, tyrant flycatchers, warblers, and other frugivores.

Are they poisonous?

No, the Semnornis ramphastinus (toucan barbet) is not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, the Semnornis ramphastinus (toucan barbet) would not make a good pet.

Did you know...

The prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) of the same family as toucan barbet bird has a 'wa-cwa-cwa' call made by individuals and pairs.

The prong-billed barbet (Semnornis frantzii) has orange-brown plumage.

The toucan bird species normally inhabit hollow trees (nest) that were previously inhabited by woodpecker birds.

These young birds use their scissor-like bills to cut out from the nest cavities.

How do you differentiate between a toucan barbet and a woodpecker?

Although the toucan barbet and woodpecker bird species are of the same order Paciformes, a barbet is not a woodpecker. The woodpecker species are of the family Picidae.

Woodpecker bird species are solitary creatures whereas toucan barbet roost in small groups. Also, the woodpecker birds defend their resources on their own, unlike the toucans. Several woodpecker bird species are mostly brown or olive-colored whereas the toucan barbet birds are colorful. Woodpecker birds mostly feed on insects like caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other small insects.

Are toucan barbets endangered?

No, toucan barbets are not endangered but are Near Threatened. Their relatives, prong-billed barbets (Semnornis frantzii) are listed as Least Concern. These species face the threat of illegal trapping for cage-bird trade, which is one of the main reasons for the decline of their population.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these hyacinth macaw facts and Amazon parrot facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable toucan barbet coloring pages.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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