Curl-crested Aracaris or Curly-crested Aracaris
The Curl-crested Aracari (Pteroglossus beauharnaesii) is a South American toucan that is named after its distinctive curly head feathers.
Range and ecology
The Curl-crested Aracari range includes central and southern Brazil, ranging as far east as the mouth of the Madeira River and westward to the lowland forests of eastern Peru and south into northern Bolivia. Near the Amazon River, its range stretches east to about the Madeira River. Its southern half of its range extends east to the Xingu River.
This species is rare and uncommon within its range and mostly occurs at several localities, including the Tambopata-Candamo reserve in Peru, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park in Bolivia, and the Cristalino State Park near Alta Floresta in Brazil.
Aracaris generally roost socially throughout the year. Up to five adults and their fledged offspring sleep in the same hole with their long tails folded over their backs.
Its most notable feature is the curled feathers on the top of its head (crown). These crown feathers are glossy and have the look and feel of plastic. Its whitish yellow facial feathers have black tips.
The upperparts are dark green with dark red mantle and rump. The breast is yellow with increasing blotches of red to a red and black band.
Compared to other toucans it also has a relatively short bill and a long tail. It has a blue and maroon upper bill and ivory lower bill; and an orangy tip. The bare skin around the eyes is light blue.
Toucan Trivia: Unexpected, Interesting and Fun Facts about the Toucan Family of Birds
Diet / Feeding
Their natural diet consists primarily of a wide range of different fruits; thus they play an extremely important ecological role as vectors for seed dispersal of fruiting trees.
Toucans get most of the water they need from the fruits they eat. Although captive birds need access to fresh water at all times -- especially since their diet includes pellets. They also require opportunities for bathing.
In the wild, they will also feed on bird eggs and occasionally small animals (including smaller birds and their nestlings, lizards and other small prey). The Curly-crested Aracaris have been observed on several occasions to raid the nests of Yellow-rumped Caciques (Cacicus cela) taking and feeding on their eggs and chicks. During the breeding season, in particular, they will take large amounts of insects for protein.
Captive toucans are thriving on a diet of high-quality, low-iron pellets and fresh fruits. Pellets should make up about 50% of their diet - the other half being fresh fruits. They should be fed plenty of fresh fruits, such as papayas, cantaloupes and other melons, berries, grapes, apples and bananas. (Papayas in particular are amongst their favorites.) The fruits should be chopped up into bite-sized pieces (about 0.5 inch on each side). Any seeds (such as found in papaya or melons) should be removed as they can cause intestinal problems.
Toucans have frequently been observed throwing their heads back when eating small fruits, allowing the fruit to roll into their throats before swallowing.
Please be aware that certain dietary components may increase the storage of iron, including Vitamin C, ascorbic acid (citrus fruit) and sugar. Their liver accumulates too much iron resulting in iron storage disease, which is a common and serious health problem with toucans.
Since citric acid facilitates the absorption of iron, Jerry Jennings, President / Director of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens strongly recommends "against feeding any citrus fruit at all - not even in moderate amounts." Fruits high in citric acid are, for example, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, pineapple, limes and tomatoes.
Red meat or any other meat should not be fed either (high in iron). He states that the iron in their diets comes mainly from the pellets they are fed, so low iron pellets should be provided. Jerry Jennings feeds "Mazuri because it is both low in iron and high in betacarotenes, and the quality control Mazuri practices is the best." (Should be available in better bird stores, as well as online.)
If Mazuri isn't available in your area, a good quality formulated (low-iron) softbill food (in addition to plenty of fresh fruit) should be fed. It is important that the formulated diet does not contain propylene glycol - a liquid derived from natural gas that is used in antifreeze and de-icing solutions, as well as skin-care products. Unfortunately, it is also added to many formulated pet diets (birds, dogs, cats). This chemical can cause serious and potentially irreversible health conditions, including death.
The pellets and fruits should be offered in separated dishes twice a day. It is important to wash the dishes very carefully before each feeding, as bacteria grow quickly in this high-sugar and moist environment. It is easiest to have several sets of dishes, place used dishes into the dishwasher for cleaning, and use fresh sets of dishes for each feeding.
During the breeding season, crickets are typically added to meet their increased need for protein.
Seeds should not be fed as their digestive tracts are not designed to digest seeds. Toucans will lose weight and eventually starve to death if kept on an all- or mostly seed diet.
Note: Birds that are fed a formulated diet do not need supplementation with vitamins. Excess nutrients (particularly synthetics) can be harmful to their health.
Keep a fresh, clean source of water available for your toucan at all times. Many toucans will use this dish primarily for bathing, but they do drink from time to time as well.
They nest in trees with appropriate hollows, most of which are previously made by woodpeckers. Other hollows are the result of a branch break and ensuing rotting of the heart wood from rain over a period of time.
Both the male and female share the incubation and chick rearing duties. Their eggs are white and elliptical shaped. The clutch size consists of 3 to 4 eggs and the incubation lasts for about 16 days.
The newly hatched chicks are blind and naked with short bills and thick pads on their heels to protect them from the rough floor of the nest. Both parents, as well as their previous offspring and/or possibly other adults, feed the chicks.
The young fledge after about 6 weeks. The adults continue to feed them for several weeks after fledging.
This is not a common species in the United States. In fact until recently, the only ones were kept at the San Diego Zoo (although they may no longer keep them). Some of their offspring ended up at the Dallas World Aquarium.
These active Aracaris require large, planted flights. Aracaris are generally docile and can be kept with smaller birds -- but not birds so small that they (or their young) could be considered as prey by these large birds, such as finches. Breeding pairs are best kept alone.
Captive birds may breed in nest boxes with a concave bottom; however, they generally prefer natural nests constructed from palm tree logs, which allows them to dig their nest chambers deeper.
Jerry Jennings, President / Director of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens Fallbrook, CA also imported this species in 2004, and sold some Curly-crested Aracaris to the Dallas World Aquarium and the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina. At this point in time, over 40 pairs are scattered around the United States that were sold by Jerry Jennings, who himself has 14 breeding pairs. At this point in time sufficient breeding pairs are set up in the United States for this species to be available to private aviculturists. Adrienne Reeves, who bought one of his Curly-rested Aracaris contributed her pet Marley's photos for publication on the Avianweb.
Jerry Jennings describes this species as
"... an exquisitely beautiful and peaceful additions to the mixed species aviary and their friendly disposition makes them fantastic pets. As handfed babies, they readily imprint on their human companions and quickly bond. They are curious, inquisitive and playful and a delight both in appearance and personality. They are easily trained to potty in the appropriate place as well as do a number of unique bird tricks."
"Toucanets and Aracaris are far easier to breed than the large toucans and they are pretty close to being equal. I would rank them from easiest to more difficult as follows: Crimson Rump Toucanets, Guyana Toucanets, Green Aracaris, Emerald Toucanets, Ivory Bill Aracaris, Collared Aracaris, Curl Crested Aracaris, Chestnut Eared Aracaris, and Saffron Toucanets.
I have other small species that have not bred at all, but I recently acquired them and only have a pair or two of each, so it is too early to know how they will do. The Chestnut Ears have been the greatest challenge because they scramble their eggs and thus you must pull them for artificial incubation as soon as they are laid. Then they are the most difficult to hand raise from day one.
The Crimson Rumps, Guyanas and Greens are the easiest in that order I have never had mate aggression in the Curl Crested, Ivory Bill, Chestnut Ears or Crimson Rumps. I have had mate aggression in Emeralds several times and once in Guyanas.
They all require the same space. The smallest breeding flight I have used was 4' x 10' x 6 feet high and the flights I currently use are 8' x 12' x 8 feet high and the newest flights are 8' x 16' x 8 feet high.
They need the proper diet, a nest log and the pairs must be compatible.
I would start with the easiest, so when you have babies you will feel a sense of accomplishment and want to continue. If you start with a difficult species you will have much less luck and may become discouraged." (Source: Jerry Jennings, President / Director of Emerald Forest Bird Gardens)
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