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7 Fascinating Facts About the Tepui Toucanet

The Tepui Toucanet, also known as Aulacorhynchus whitelianus, is a small but striking bird found in the mountainous regions of northern South America. With its vibrant plumage and unique features, it is a fascinating species that bird enthusiasts will love to learn more about.

This article will cover everything you need to know about the Tepui Toucanet, including its identification, plumage, and molts. Identification:

Field Identification:

The Tepui Toucanet is a small bird, measuring about 25 cm in length.

It has a distinctive and brightly colored plumage, making it easy to identify in the wild. Its head is green, with a blue patch around the eye, a red patch on the throat, and a bright yellow breast.

The wings and tail feathers are black with a bluish tint, while the legs and feet are grey. Similar Species:

Despite its unique coloring, the Tepui Toucanet can be mistaken for other toucan species.

One such species is the Emerald Toucanet, which has a similar shape and size, and can also be found in the same regions as the Tepui Toucanet. However, the Emerald Toucanet has a bright emerald green head and breast, as well as a different beak shape.


The Tepui Toucanet has two main plumages, which are the adult and juvenile plumages. The adult plumage is the brightly colored one described in the Identification section.

The juvenile plumage, on the other hand, is duller in color, with less yellow on the breast, and a more mottled pattern on the wings. Molts:

Birds molt their feathers periodically, replacing their old feathers with new ones.

The Tepui Toucanet has two molting periods each year. During the first molting period, which occurs in January and February, the bird sheds its feathers and grows new ones.

The second molting period occurs in July and August, during which the bird sheds old feathers again. Conclusion:

The Tepui Toucanet is an incredibly fascinating bird species, with its striking colors and unique features.

This article has provided an overview of the bird’s identification, plumages, and molting patterns. With this information in mind, bird enthusiasts will be able to easily identify and appreciate the Tepui Toucanet in the wild.

of the Tepui Toucanet article, as the focus is on providing information and education rather than persuasion or a call to action. Systematics History:

The Tepui Toucanet has a fascinating systematics history that has undergone many revisions in recent years.

It was initially classified as a subspecies of the Emerald Toucanet. However, in 2010, a thorough molecular and morphological re-evaluation designated it as a separate species.

Geographic Variation:

The Tepui Toucanet is widespread within its range, which includes the mountainous regions of Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil. Despite its range, there is little geographic variation among the subspecies of the Tepui Toucanet.


Currently, seven subspecies of the Tepui Toucanet are recognized:

1. Aulacorhynchus whitelianus icteronotus (Venezuela)


Aulacorhynchus whitelianus aeruginosus (Venezuela)

3. Aulacorhynchus whitelianus flavoviridis (Venezuela)


Aulacorhynchus whitelianus whitelianus (Venezuela)

5. Aulacorhynchus whitelianus tolimae (Colombia)


Aulacorhynchus whitelianus caeruleogularis (Guyana)

7. Aulacorhynchus whitelianus uropygialis (Brazil)

The different subspecies of the Tepui Toucanet are distinguished by subtle differences in the color and pattern of their plumage, particularly on the head and neck, although the differences are often minor.

Related Species:

The Tepui Toucanet belongs to the family Ramphastidae, which includes toucans and aracaris. There are a staggering 46 species within this bird family, including the Emerald Toucanet, the closest relative to the Tepui Toucanet.

Phylogenetic studies have shown that the Tepui Toucanet is more closely related to the Blue-throated Toucanet and the Collared Aracari than to the Emerald Toucanet, despite their similar physical features. Historical Changes to Distribution:

The distribution of the Tepui Toucanet has changed over time, particularly in relation to the loss of suitable habitat and climate change.

In the past, the toucan was widespread throughout the northern mountains of South America. However, the clearing of forests for agricultural purposes and logging has led to the fragmentation and loss of suitable habitat, reducing the bird’s range.

In addition to habitat loss, climate change has also affected the Tepui Toucanet. Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns have caused the bird’s preferred habitat to shift, making it more difficult for it to find suitable areas for nesting and feeding.


The Tepui Toucanet is a fascinating species with an intricate and interesting systematics history. Bird enthusiasts will be interested in learning more about its subspecies, geographic variation, and related species.

Furthermore, the historical changes to its distribution have important implications for its future survival and conservation. By understanding these aspects of the Tepui Toucanet, we can work towards ensuring that this beautiful bird continues to thrive in the wild.

of the Tepui Toucanet article, as the focus is on providing information and education rather than persuasion or a call to action. Habitat:

The Tepui Toucanet is a bird species that is mostly found in the mountainous regions of South America, specifically in the Guyana Shield.

It lives in humid forests with high canopies and montane vegetation, usually at elevations ranging between 1000 and 2200 meters. It is a non-migratory species, and as such, it is restricted to its particular range throughout the year.

The toucan’s preferred habitat is the high altitude cloud forest. These forests are typically characterized by high humidity and low temperatures, making it an ideal habitat for the Tepui Toucanet, which is well-adapted to these conditions.

Its natural habitat is often located on the sides of mountain ranges, ridges, slopes, and gorges. It can also be found in and around tree plantations, but it tends to avoid disturbed habitats.

Movements and Migration:

The Tepui Toucanet is a non-migratory bird species, meaning that it does not typically undertake regular or seasonal migrations. It is generally a sedentary bird that stays within its range throughout the year.

However, there may be some local movements within the bird’s range, particularly in response to changes in resource availability, nest site availability, breeding opportunities, and climatic conditions. The species may also move to adjacent habitats, particularly if its preferred habitat is disturbed or destroyed.

Additionally, the Tepui Toucanet’s movements are somewhat different from those of similar bird species. While other species may undertake seasonal altitudinal migrations, whereby they move vertically up or down to avoid harsh climatic conditions and find more favorable breeding and foraging areas, the Tepui Toucanet is generally restricted to high altitudes.

This means it cannot move further up the mountain for better conditions. Therefore, the species must adapt to cope with changing conditions.

Adaptations of the species to its unique and restricted range include a niche specialization in mistletoe berries. These berries are abundant in the cloud forest habitat of the Tepui Toucanet, and they are often the primary food source for the bird.

The only visible movement that happens with this species occurs on the occasion when they do undertake local movements. These movements tend to be short and are mainly aimed at locating better resources within its local habitat.


The Tepui Toucanet is a non-migratory bird species that is adapted to its specific habitat. Its natural habitat, comprising high altitude cloud forests with high canopies and montane vegetation, provides optimal conditions for the bird, particularly through the abundance of mistletoe berries.

Although the species does not undertake regular or seasonal migrations, local movements may occur in response to changes in resource availability and climatic conditions within its range. By understanding these movements and the species’ adaptations, we can work towards conserving this unique and important bird species and its mountainous habitat.

of the Tepui Toucanet article, as the focus is on providing information and education rather than persuasion or a call to action. Diet and Foraging:


The Tepui Toucanet is predominantly a frugivore, meaning that its primary diet consists of fruit.

It also feeds on insects, seeds, and occasionally small vertebrates. However, mistletoe berries are its favorite food, and it has developed a specialization to feed on those.

Research has demonstrated that berries comprise over 70% of all food items consumed by the Tepui Toucanet. Diet:

The toucan’s diet depends on the availability of food items in its local range.

In the absence of mistletoe berries, it may shift to other fruits such as figs, arils, and other berries. It is known to supplement its fruit diet with small insects like ants and termites, which can be found in the same trees as the fruit.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation:

The Tepui Toucanet’s diet and foraging behavior are crucial for its metabolism and body temperature regulation. Unlike mammals, birds cannot regulate internal body temperature and rely on external temperature regulation mechanisms.

The toucan’s high metabolic rate plays a vital role in maintaining its body temperature. The high metabolic rate is required to break down fruit seeds and ingest the high cellulose content.

The consumption of such food items increases heat production and aids thermoregulation, which, coupled with their insulative feathers, helps regulate the bird’s body temperature. Sounds and Vocal Behavior:


The Tepui Toucanet is known for its distinctive vocalizations, which include a range of calls, squawks, and screams.

The species vocalizes to establish its territory, communicate with its mate and other individuals, and alert others to potential threats.

One of the most common calls made by the Tepui Toucanet is the ‘kuk-kuk’ call, which is a soft, low-pitched call used for communication between mates and other birds in its local habitat.

When threatened, the bird raises an alarm call that is harsh and abrupt, producing a sound like ‘waah-waah.’ During courtship displays, males and females produce a series of complex calls, including trills, whistles, and chirps. The Tepui Toucanet also incorporates bill-clicking into its vocalization.

The bird makes a series of rapid clicks that sound similar to the sound of two bill ends tapping against each other. The clicks are as distinct as the bird’s calls and are used to communicate with other members of their species.

Bill-clicking appears to be a universal form of communication among toucans and toucanets. Conclusion:

The Tepui Toucanet, despite its small size, is a fascinating bird species.

Its diet and foraging behavior have a direct relationship with its metabolic rate and body temperature regulation, which are essential for its survival. The bird is also known for its unique and distinctive vocalizations, which serve a variety of purposes, including communication with mates and other individuals and alerting others to potential threats.

By understanding the Tepui Toucanet’s feeding and vocal behaviors, we can gain a greater appreciation for this beautiful bird species and the importance of its conservation. of the Tepui Toucanet article, as the focus is on providing information and education rather than persuasion or a call to action.



The Tepui Toucanet is an arboreal species that moves primarily by hopping through trees and using its bill as a lever for support. While the bird can fly, it prefers to hop from branch to branch, using its wings for balance and stabilization.


The Tepui Toucanet spends a significant portion of its time engaging in self-maintenance behavior, including preening, bathing, and sunning. Preening helps to maintain the condition of the feathers, which are crucial for flight and insulation.

Agonistic Behavior:

The Tepui Toucanet engages in a range of agonistic behaviors, particularly when defending its territory or food resources. These behaviors may include threats, vocalizations, and fighting.

The bird has a wide variety of vocalizations that are used to establish territory and communicate threats. Sexual Behavior:

During breeding season, the Tepui Toucanet engages in a range of courtship behaviors, including bill-fencing, mutual grooming, and wing-lifting.

The male and female members of the species perform synchronized feeding and playful flapping together, which helps to strengthen their bond. Breeding:

The breeding season for the Tepui Toucanet varies depending on the region.

In Venezuela, breeding is known to occur between March and July, while in Brazil, it tends to happen from November to January. The Tepui Toucanet’s breeding behavior is usually monogamous, with a male and female pair bonding for life.

The pair will establish a territory, which they will defend from other toucans. Courtship begins with synchronized feeding and increased displays of mutual grooming, which can later be followed by copulation.

The toucan’s nest is a hole in a tree, often an old woodpecker nest, and it is lined with wood dust and plant fibers. The eggs are laid within the hole, and both parents take turns incubating them.

Demography and Populations:

The Tepui Toucanet is not considered to be a globally threatened species. However, due to the loss of its preferred habitat, the bird’s population is decreasing in some areas.

The toucan is listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. The population density of the Tepui Toucanet depends on the availability of food and suitable nesting sites.

Typically, up to five birds can occupy 1 km2 of habitat. The birds are social and sometimes forage together in groups of up to six individuals, which may consist of family groups or non-related birds.


The Tepui Toucanet is an incredible bird species that exhibits a variety of fascinating behaviors. It is arboreal and moves primarily by hopping through trees while using its bill for support.

The species also engages in self-maintenance, agonistic, and sexual behaviors. During the breeding season, the toucan forms monogamous pairs, which establish territories and defend them from other birds.

The species is not currently globally threatened, but its populations are decreasing due to the loss of its preferred habitat. By understanding the behavior, breeding, and demography of the Tepui Toucanet, we can appreciate this beautiful bird and work towards its conservation.

The Tepui Toucanet is a small but remarkable bird species with many intricate features. From its striking plumage and unique vocalizations to its feeding behavior and mating rituals, this bird exhibits behaviors that are a testament to its adaptability and resilience.

Although the range of the Tepui Toucanet is currently threatened by habitat loss and climate change, our understanding of the bird’s behavior and systematics can help us work towards its conservation. By appreciating its uniqueness and importance, we can work together to ensure that this beautiful bird species continues to thrive in its natural habitat.

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