Tucan or Toucan Travel?

Tucan, Toucan, Tucán, Tucano; what's in a name?

When Tucan Travel was formed in 1987, co-founders Pip and Liliana Tyler named their company Tucan Travel because, as they were Latin American specialists principally operating tours in South America and Central America, it made sense to use the local spelling.

Here at Tucan Travel, we often get people thinking that our name is spelled Toucan Travel. The name 'tucan' actually derives from the Latin American (Spanish) spelling 'tucán' or Brazilian (Portuguese) spelling 'tucano'.

Tucan Travel is named after the distinctive South American toucan bird with a large brightly coloured beak. The toucan comes from the neotropics - the tropical regions of the Americas. They are bright, striking birds renowned for their large, colourful bills. Some large species of toucans have bills that are at least half as long as their body, but they are very light and strong so don’t weigh the birds down.

There has been a lot of scientific debate about the function of the toucan's distinctive bill. Some argue that it is necessary for recognition, while others believe its function is wholly practical in the process of gathering food and seeds. There are also claims that the bill is necessary for defence, while some scientists believe that it could be a mechanism to intimidate smaller birds so that they can more easily plunder their nests.

You may see toucans in Mexico and Central America, particularly in jungle areas and tropical ruin sites such as Tikal in Guatemala. In South America, you will find them in the Amazon Jungle (our tours visit areas of the Amazon in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil), in parts of northern Argentina and all across Brazil.

The toucan family includes around 40 species, the most popular being the keel-billed toucan. Related species include mountain toucans, aracaris, and toucanets. Scientists speculate that there could even be species of the toucan that have not yet been documented as there are areas of rainforest which remain unexplored.

Toucans are very intelligent, social birds and are very noisy in groups. Their bodies are heavy with short wings and their first and fourth toes are inverted. Toucans prefer to hop between branches rather than fly. They are usually found in pairs or small flocks, and they do not migrate.

Toucans are frugivorous (fruit-eating), but will also eat bird eggs and small prey such as rodents and insects. Toucans swallow fruit whole and then regurgitate the seeds. Toucans have a good lifespan and can live for about 20 years.

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