The Four Extant Species Of Mountain Toucan Found In The Andes Mountains

The plate-billed mountain toucan is one of the four extant species of toucans found in the Andes mountains today.

The mountain toucans are a genus of birds of the family Ramphastidae that inhabit the humid forests in the highlands of the South American Andes. They belong to the Andigena genus. The range of these birds extends from Venezuela to Bolivia. They are known for their vibrant appearance. All birds of this genus have a blue-gray ventral surface and an olive-brown dorsal surface. They also have a red vent, yellow colored rump, and a black crown in common.

4. Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan

A grey-breasted mountain toucan in Ecuador.

The Andigena hypoglauca is a mountain toucan species that inhabits the humid forests in the highlands of the Andes. The range of this species includes Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Two subspecies are found: the A. h. hypoglauca and the A. h. lateralis. The former ranges from central Colombia to eastern Ecuador. The range of the latter begins in eastern Ecuador and extends up to central Peru. The birds can be easily distinguished by their colorful beaks which are colored differently at the top (red and black) and the base (yellow-green). A thumbprint shaped marking is also present at the base of the beak. The rest of the body is brown colored and is separated from the black colored head by a gray collar. The birds live high on the trees but also come to ground at the base of the trees for foraging. They are often observed foraging with other groups of birds like tanagers, thrushes, etc.

3. Black-billed Mountain Toucan

The Andigena nigrirostris is a mountain toucan that lives in the humid forests in the highlands of the Andes. The range of this species of bird extends all the way from Venezuela south through Colombia and Ecuador to northern Peru. There are three subspecies of this bird of which only the nominate subspecies, the A. n. nigrirostris, has a completely black beak. The other two subspecies are A. n. spilorhynchus and A. n. occidentalis. The throat of the bird is white in color. The birds are often observed in the tree canopies foraging in pairs or in small family groups.

2. Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

A plate-billed mountain toucan.

The Andigena laminirostris is found in the mountains of the Andes where they live in the humid montane forests of the mountainous landscape. They prefer habitats that have a rich growth of mosses and bromeliads. The typical altitude of their habitat ranges between 1,200 to 3,2000 meters and occasionally they might be spotted at elevations as low as 300 meters. The range of the birds extends from southwest Colombia to central Ecuador. The length of the birds vary between 46 and 51 cm and their weight ranges from 275 to 355 g. Fruits constitute the majority of the diet of these birds. They are reported to migrate to the lower slopes during winter in groups of about 25 birds. The small range of the species makes the birds highly susceptible to threats posed by human activities. The birds are recognized as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. Habitat loss due to the removal of forests for logging, agriculture, mining, etc., and capture of birds for the illegal international cage-bird trade are the major factors influencing the population decline of this species.

1. Hooded Mountain Toucan

The Andigena cucullata is a mountain toucan species that inhabits the humid forests on the slopes of the Andes mountains. These birds are highly elusive in nature and despite a small range stretching from southeastern Peru to central Bolivia, the birds are rarely sighted in the wild. It is also possible that the bird migrates from higher to lower altitudes. The bird is colored bright with a vibrant greenish-yellow beak that is black-tipped. The base of the beak displays a black ovaloid marking.


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