The Ivory-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus azara) is a South American Aracari that is found in the lowlands of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil at elevations of 300 meters and west into the lower elevations of the Andes to 1,200 meters from Colombia south through Ecuador and Peru to Bolivia and eastward into western and central Brazil.
This is the smallest Aracari weighing only about 150 grams or 5.3 oz. The Ivory Bill is a dimorphic species (males and females can visually be identified). The males have a black crown and the females have a brown crown. Males also tend to have longer bills than the females. Otherwise, they look alike.
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.
Pteroglossus azara azara, Pteroglossus azara flavirostris, Pteroglossus azara mariae
They typically 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.
The eggs are incubated 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.
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.
"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)
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). 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.
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